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London, on behalf of the Continuation 
Committee of the World Missionary Conference 















THE studies contained in this volume appeared in 
successive numbers of the International Review of 
Missions and are reissued by the desire of the 
Continuation Committee of the World Missionary 
Conference. An introductory chapter has been 
kindly contributed by Dr. S. M. Zwemer, in which 
the distinctive character of these contributions to 
the study of Islam is made clear. It is believed 
that all who are concerned in missions to Moslems 
will find instruction and inspiration in the living 
experience which the studies record. 

In order to facilitate the use of the book by 
students, a second index has been added classifying 
the material under the six main topics dealt with. 

Acknowledgments are due to the Rev. H. U. 
Weitbrecht, Ph.D., D.D., for the transliteration of 
Arabic names and terms ; to the Rev. W. H. T. 
Gairdner, for help in the preparation of the indexes, 
generously given during a short holiday ; and to 
Miss G. A. Gollock, who has seen the volume 
through the press. 


EDINBURGH, March 1915 





INTRODUCTION . . . . .1 

By Rev. S. M. Zwemer, D.D., Cairo. 

FIRST STUDY . . '..' ., . 11 

By Rev. W. H. T. Gairdner, Cairo. 

SECOND STUDY .... , 45 

By Rev. W. A. Shedd, D.D., Urumia. 

THIRD STUDY . . . . .77 

By Pastor Gottfried Simon, formerly of 

FOURTH STUDY . . . . .123 

By Professor Stewart Crawford, Beirut. 

FIFTH STUDY . . . . .157 

By Professor Siraju'd Din, Lahore. 

SIXTH STUDY . . . . .193 

By the Rev. Canon Godfrey Dale, Zanzibar. 

SEVENTH STUDY . . . . * 213 

By Professor Duncan B. Macdonald, D.D., 
Hartford Theological Seminary, U.S.A. 

GENERAL INDEX . . . . ,241 




IN default of a universally recognized standard of translitera- 
tion it must suffice, for present purposes, to explain what has 
been accepted here as approximating 1 to the best systems in 
use, without entering 1 on minuter distinctions. 

Broadly speaking, the consonants not mentioned below have 
the same value as in the leading European languages. 
Otherwise (following the order of the Arabic alphabet) : 

The elision of alif (|) is expressed by an apostrophe, e.g. 

th (d;) = English th in thing. 

h (<-) = a modified, deep guttural h. 
kh () = ch in loch. 

dh ( j) = th in the. (In Persia and India read as 0.) 
s (jjtf) = modified 5. 
z (\jP) modified z. 

The Arabic letter 'ain (%) being unpronounceable by Euro- 
peans, is rendered by an inverted apostrophe, e.g. shari'a. 

gh_(^) = a voiced kh, something like the French rgrasseyj. 
t (b) and z (^) = modified t and z. 

q ( Jj) = a deep guttural k sound. 

The long vowels in Arabic are \-alif (\ ) = a ; waw (j) = u ; 

and yay (^) = I (continental value in each case). The corre- 
sponding short vowels are rendered a, u, and i (unmarked). 

Exceptions are made in the case of Allah, Mohammed, 
Moslem, and Koran, which have become conventionalized as 
English words. 



By the Rev. S. M. ZWEMER, D.D., F.R.G.S., 
Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed 
Church in America ; Cairo (late of Bahrein, 
Persian Gulf). 


By the Rev. S. M. ZWEMER, D.D., F.R.G.S. 

ALL missionaries in Moslem lands and students of 
the Moslem problem everywhere will welcome the 
appearance of this series of able articles on the 
Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam. They were 
written for the International Review of Missions 
and are now gathered together and published in 
compact form to reach a still larger circle of 
readers. The writers of the papers were asked to 
supply from their own experience an answer to the 
following questions, without necessarily adhering 
exactly to the precise form in which the questions 
were put : 

1. In your contact with Moslems, what have 
you found to be the elements in their faith which 
are really vital ; i.e., which are genuinely prized as 
a religious help and consolation, or which tend to 
influence character and conduct ? 

2. Have you, on the other hand, found in indi- 
viduals any dissatisfaction with their faith on specific 
points ? 

4 Vital Fcrct-s of Christianity and Islam 

3. Which elements in the Christian Gospel and 
the Christian life have you found to possess the 
greatest power of appeal ? 

4. Which elements in Christianity awaken most 
opposition or create most difficulty? 

5. What elements in Islam present points of 
contact with Christianity, and may be used by the 
teacher as a foundation on which to build ? 

6. Has your contact with Moslems shed any 
fresh light on the New Testament, or enlarged or 
altered your understanding of what is most vital 
and essential in the Christian faith? 

The answers given are not based on theories 
or conjectures, but come from the school of ripe 
experience and of lifelong study and sympathetic 
understanding of Islam and of Moslems. Those 
that give their testimony are as strong and 
representative a group as it would be possible to 
select without increasing its number. It includes 
missionaries who have laboured or are still at 
work in Egypt, Syria, Persia, the Dutch East 
Indies and East Africa; an Indian convert from 
Islam and a distinguished student of the problem 
at home. 

The Rev. W. H. T. Gairdner who writes the 
first paper has been at work among the educated 
Moslems of Cairo under the Church Missionary 
Society since 1897 ; he is at the head of the 
Cairo Study Centre for the training of missionaries 
to Moslems and is the author of the life of his 

Introduction S. M. Zwemer 5 

former colleague, Douglas Thornton, and of other 
works. The Rev. W. A. Shedd, D.D., has been a 
missionary of the Presbyterian Church of America 
(North) in Persia for many years and is specially 
conversant with the Shi'a form of Islam. Pastor 
Gottfried Simon also speaks with authority, having 
laboured for eleven years among Mohammedans 
and the Batak tribes threatened by the advance 
of Islam in Sumatra. His contribution is, in fact, 
a scholarly condensation of his work, Islam und 
Christentum im Kampf um die Eroberung der 
animistischen Heidenwelt, which has recently 
appeared in an English translation. Professor 
Stewart Crawford, who contributes the fourth 
article, writes from the point of view of one who 
has been in close contact with Mohammedanism in 
Syria. He was born in the mission field and 
spent his boyhood among the Syrians. Then for 
fifteen years he engaged in itinerant work as 
missionary in Damascus and the Anti-Lebanon. 
At present he is a professor in tne Syrian 
Protestant College. Professor Siraju 'd Dm of the 
Forman Christian College at Lahore knows by 
experience that the vital power of the Gospel 
can overcome and lead captive all the vital forces 
of Islam in its train. He is a convert from 
Mohammedanism and has had experience both in 
his college work and as a bazaar preacher in 
leading others to the living Christ. No less 

6 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

authoritative is the message of the Rev. Canon 
Dale, Chancellor of Zanzibar Cathedral, who 
joined the Universities' Mission in 1889. He 
also writes from experience and knows both the 
points of contact and of contrast between Islam 
and Christianity. Dr. Duncan B. Macdonald, 
who contributes the last paper, is, as we all 
know, one of the foremost authorities on the 
history and dogma of Islam. His three important 
volumes on the Development of Moslem Theology, 
the Religious Attitude and Life in Islam and 
Aspects of Islam should be in every missionary 

It is, of course, impossible that even so strong 
and representative a group of seven writers could 
present the whole of missionary experience or be 
always in perfect agreement. Nor would this be 
desirable. They do give us, however, foundation 
for future study and a consensus of opinion on 
the leading elements of the baffling problem, and 
lay down principles for its systematic study far 
in advance of anything hitherto attempted or 

It is, of course, true that there is a sense in 
which we cannot speak of vital forces in Islam 
at all. In Christ alone is the life. He is the 
sole source and the perennial fountain of the 
life that is life indeed. Like all other non- 
Christian systems and philosophies Islam is a 

Introduction S. M. Zwemer 7 

dying religion. Neither the character of the 
Koran nor of its prophet have in them the promise 
or potency of life that will endure. Moreover, 
at the present time there are in Islam many 
evidences of decay. The Earl of Cromer, writing 
of Egypt, said: 'Reformed Islam is Islam no 
longer it is something else, and we cannot yet 
tell what it will eventually be. ... Christian 
nations may advance in civilization, freedom, and 
morality, in philosophy, science, and arts, but 
Islam stands still, and thus stationary, so far as 
the lessons of history avail, it will remain.' In 
1899, delegates from the Moslem world assembled 
in Mecca and gave fourteen days 'to investigate 
into the causes for the decay of Islam.' Fifty- 
seven reasons were given, including fatalism, the 
opposition of science, the rejection of religious 
liberty, neglect of education, and inactivity due 
to the hopelessness of the cause itself. We 
find the same note of despair in the recent 
volume of essays by an educated Indian Moslem, 
S. Khuda Buksh, M. A. He speaks of the ' hideous 
deformity' of Moslem society and of 'the vice 
and immorality, the selfishness, self seeking, and 
hypocrisy which are corrupting it through and 
through.' Those who live among Moslems and read 
Moslem newspapers and books are more and more 
surprised that Islam itself is not conscious of its 
strength but of its weakness and decay and 

8 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

that everywhere Moslems are bemoaning a day of 
opportunity that is lost. The Moslem pulpit and 
the Moslem press in the great centres of Islam 
unite in a wail of despair. ' O ye servants of 
God,' said a Cairo preacher last year, ' the time 
has come for Moslems to look after their affairs 
and to regard their religion and conduct as a 
sick man looks toward his remedy and the man 
who is drowning toward dry land.' Some months 
later Mohammed Al 'Attar of Al Azhar University 
published his essay, Where is Islam? in which he 
despairs of all reform and exposes to public 
gaze, in all their corrupt nakedness, the decaying 
forces at work in Islam. According to these 
physicians the patient suffers from an incurable 
malady. The expansion of Islam and its world- 
wide conquests are indeed tokens of its outward 
strength but it lacks inward vitality. 

The writers of the papers here collected are 
naturally perfectly cognizant of these facts. As 
Christians they know that real life is found only 
in Christ. But they use the term 'vital forces' 
to describe those truths and characteristics which 
have for many centuries had such marvellous 
power over the hearts of men. The strength of 
any religion lies not in its bad qualities or 
tendencies, but in its good; not in its false 
teachings, but in its truths and half truths. To 
study Islam with sympathy, therefore, we must 

Introduction S. M. Zwemer 9 

seek to know where its real strength lies and 
what there is in its teaching that captivates 
the minds and hearts of Moslems (i.e. those 
surrendered to it). We must know Islam at its 
best that we may point Moslems to a way that 
is better. We must give full credit to all its 
elements of strength and beauty in order that we 
may with greater gladness and boldness present 
Jesus Christ, who is altogether strength and 
beauty, because in Him are hid all the treasures 
of wisdom and knowledge and in Him alone 
dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 

The Moslem heart and the Moslem world have 
only one great need Jesus Christ. In Him is 
the life and the life was the light of men. 'The 
fresh breath of Jesus,' as Jalalu 'd Dm, the Moslem 
mystic, called it, is proving and will evermore 
prove the only real vital force in Moslem lands : 

And granite man's heart is till grace intervene 
And crushing it clothe the long barren with green. 
When the fresh breath of Jesus shall touch the heart's 

It will live, it will breathe, it will blossom once more. 

In the present conditions and opportunities that 
confront the Church of God throughout the whole 
Moslem world we face a new and grave responsi- 
bility. It can only be met by the outpouring of 
life in loving service, by sacrificial obedience to 
the last command of our Saviour, and by the 

io Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

immediate sympathetic, tactful but also fearless 
and direct proclamation of the Gospel by word 
and by deed. Then will the vital forces of 
Christianity come to their own over against the 
vital forces of Islam. 


By the Rev. W. H. T. GAIRDNER, Church 
Missionary Society ; Cairo. 

By the Rev. W. H. T. GAIRDNER 

Is the evangelization of Islam in this or any other 
generation worth while ? And if so, just how is it 
worth while ? 

Of these two questions the former expresses a 
doubt which is entertained, with the utmost facility, 
by those in whom the Christian ideal of evangeliza- 
tion is unformed or imperfectly realized ; and which 
cannot but suggest itself at times even to those to 
whom Christianity and world evangelization have 
become absolutely inseparable terms. These last are, 
and in the very nature of things must be, idealists. 
Starting from the tremendous premiss of the 
universality of Christ, which for them is paramount 
and of all things most certain, they apply it every- 
where and to everything, seeing in each refractory 
phenomenon only a challenge to prove in their own 
lives the truth of the premiss challenged. Reason- 
ing of this sublime a priori type is absolutely 
justifiable. It lies at the root of all that is most 

heroic in man even if it is responsible for that 


14 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

which is only fanatical. It accounts for his progress, 
won, against all seeming and in spite of the mockery 
of circumstance, by his faith and effort and blood 
even if it also accounts for much that has thwarted 
progress. The question of the evangelizing of Islam, 
that stubbornest and most refractory of phenomena 
for Christian idealists, is for such minds rightly and 
sufficiently solved by their own all-embracing 
principle. And yet, if only for the sake of those 
whose thought is habitually suspicious of a priori 
reasoning, and who have not yet grasped the all- 
embracing principle of the universality of Christ, it 
is surely worth while to ask the second question of 
the two with which we started how is the evangeliz- 
ing of Islam worth while ? Nay, even among those 
who are convinced of the universality of Christ there 
may well be some whose minds demand an answer to 
this question. History presents so many examples 
of the ruinous breakdown of the most heroic idealism, 
when it has refused to check its a priori reasonings 
by a reference to the realities of the case. 

There is, indeed, for every one a reward in each 
honest attempt to consider steadily the phenomena 
that seem most flagrantly to contradict the founda- 
tion principle of his life. For the effort invariably 
ends in the enrichment of the principle itself. In 
this paper we desire to make some such attempt to 
answer the questions with which we started. 

Such an inquiry might, of course, be conducted 

First Study W. H. T. Gatrdner 15 

on various lines ; we might, for example, prove the 
political, or social, or general reactive benefits of 
Mohammedan missions, and the undesirability on 
general grounds of discontinuing them. Or one 
might point to the genuineness of those who have 
actually come over to the faith of Christ from Islam, 
and the manifest value of many of them to the 
Church of God. In this paper, however, it is 
intended to take a different line. We shall try 
first to discover how much in Islam seems to possess 
practical religious significance, as distinct from 
merely formal importance ; and then what has been 
felt by some Moslems to be unsatisfactory in their 
own religion. This will lead us to consider Chris- 
tianity with a Moslem's eyes, and to inquire, first, 
what aspects of Christianity arouse his antagonism 
whether unjustly, because they are part of God's 
truth, or justly, because they arise from man's 
failure; and then the aspects which gain his 
sympathy either because they resemble features of 
his own religion, or because they meet some need 
which his own religion fails to meet. The results 
of such an inquiry should afford materials for an 
answer to the two questions with which we started ; 
and they will further suggest what are the aspects 
of the Christian message which it would appear 
most necessary to emphasize, realize afresh, and, it 
may be, rediscover, in the task of bringing that 
message to Islam. 

1 6 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

The judgments passed as these various points 
are reviewed represent, of course, only the writer's 
individual opinions, based on his own observation 
and reflection. The results gained must therefore 
be defective ; they may be in part erroneous. The 
judgments of a single individual cannot be other 
than defective. Only from a synthesis of such 
articles as this can come any real illumination upon 
the questions raised by our inquiry. And it is 
only as his personal contribution to such a synthesis, 
which must result from the comparison of the 
experience of a number of workers in the Moslem 
field, that the writer ventures to offer the observa- 
tions and judgments contained in the present paper. 

Not all of the vast system of Islam is religiously 
significant. Much of the colossal development of 
the canon law, for example, is, like all casuistical 
systems, of purely theoretic interest. Some of it 
has never been in anything but practical abeyance, 
for it represented from the first rather the theoriz- 
ing or idealizing of the Mohammedan lawyers, like 
that of a Plato in his 4 Laws,' as to what the life of 
a full, realized Mohammedan state or individual 
should be. Theoretically, of course, every Moslem 
carries the whole content of the canon law in his 
heart ; actually, not every one even of the lawyers 
so much as carries it in his head. 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 17 

The same thing applies to the system of Islamic 
theology and of religious ritual. Not all of it is of 
equal religious significance. Some of the theology 
is purely the property of the professional theologians, 
and therefore of no religious significance at all. 
And, in regard to ritual, it is often that which is 
unofficial rather than that which is officially recog- 
nized that is found religiously to matter. What 
strikes the superficial observer as of enormous 
importance often expresses formal allegiance rather 
than religious life. 

The heart of every religion is its doctrine of 
God. When we strip the Mohammedan doctrine 
of Allah of all that is admittedly of purely theoretic 
interest, it would appear that what is of living 
significance to Moslems is their conviction that 
Allah is, that He is more than a principle or an 
'influence not themselves,' that He is a personal 
force, and that He has a definite relation to the world 
which includes a real, though quite inscrutable 
and also passionless favour towards themselves. This 
faith unquestionably affects the whole thinking and 
doing of Mohammedans. It may not always produce 
a particularly ethical fruit, but it is what to them 
matters. It gives them a steady, if stiff, Weltan- 
schauung \ it very often enables them to face loss, 
trouble, and adversity with complete stoicism. 
Though the length to which they have pushed 
deism might seem to imply a hopelessly remote deity, 

1 8 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

their conception of the unmitigated omnipotence of 
Allah brings Him virtually near for man is every 
way surrounded by, nay, himself exists through the 
immediate working of Allah's will and power. And 
though their conviction of the absolute ' difference ' 
between Allah's nature and attributes and their own 
logically leads to complete agnosticism, they find 
ways through which there is given them a knowledge 
of Allah and the unseen world the way of revela- 
tion through His Prophet and His book, and, as we 
shall see, the way of mysticism also. 

Another aspect of the Moslem's religion which is 
unquestionably vital to him is his personal attitude 
to his Prophet. The clause ' Muhammadun rasulu? 
llah? is at least as essential and significant an article 
of faith to him as ' La ildha ilia? Hah." 1 In some 
respects the Traditions come nearer to the life of 
a Mohammedan than does the Koran itself, and 
one does not wonder that the Egyptian peasant 
if what the writer has been told is true will 
sometimes refuse to perjure himself on al Bukhari, 
while he will cheerfully do so on al Quran. The 
Moslem's devotion to his Prophet, his admiration 
and enthusiasm, nay, his personal love for him, are 
intense realities. He believes that that Prophet 
suffered and sacrificed in loyalty to his mission. 
Sometimes he throws over theological or philo- 
sophical proofs of the truth of Islam, and points 
simply to 'the fact of Mohammed.' He feels a 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 19 

personal relationship to him; he is conscious of 
a personal gratitude for the ineffable services he 
rendered. Here again comes in the importance of 
the Traditions, fictitious though most of them 
have been shown by modern criticism to be. For 
if, as Goldziher has pointed out in his latest work, 1 
it is the Traditions that have idealized Mohammed 
and mitigated the primitive Arab barbarity of some 
aspects of his career, it is to them that we owe the 
fact that the pious Moslem is able to glide away 
from such aspects, and to emphasize to himself more 
genuinely ethical, more humane traits, and thus in 
some measure to feel his own demand for moral 
satisfaction met. It was this devotion to the man 
in the earliest days, it is this still to-day, that has 
made possible, if it has not actually determined, the 
development of Islam as a system of minute legalism 
and casuistry, based upon the practice of Mohammed 
even more than upon the word of Allah. It is 
indeed remarkable to reflect how Christianity, which 
regarded its Founder as divine, never preserved, 
much less invented, minutiae concerning His daily 
life, and so was saved from enslaving itself to a 
new system of law; while Islam, the very religion 
which arose to protest against the excessive esteem- 
ing of any man, ended by binding itself hand and 
foot, and for all generations, to one man's dictation 
in all the concerns of both private and public life. 
1 Vorlesungen in Islam^ p. 44. 

2O Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

Another reality of the Moslem's religious life is 
his pride in Islam, its position as latest and last of 
the religions, its triumphs, its' literature and its 
learning, its saints and its doctors. It is this, 
and his consciousness of its universality 'for black 
men and red,' 1 that account for another reality 
his sense of the Moslem fraternity, and the 
many ways in which he gives expression to it in 

When we ask, further, what is really significant in 
the Moslem's spiritual life, we often find that it is 
not what bulks most largely to the casual observer. 
Every traveller to the East has been struck by the 
phenomenon of Moslem prayer, whether the wonder- 
ful, silent, machine-like movements of the rows of 
worshippers in the mosques, or the private yet how 
public! prayer of the single worshipper in the 
city or in the field. Personally, the writer ques- 
tions whether the impression of tremendous spiritual 
reality thus given altogether corresponds with facts. 
Statutory prayer is taught to the small boy of seven 
as a drill, and a drill it to some extent remains. 
These five daily prayers are, indeed, classified as a 
' work ' or ' duty,' and this classification affects the 
whole way in which they are instinctively regarded. 
Not thus does the element of feeling enter into 
Moslem prayer. That comes in less statutory services 

1 Or ' white,' as we should say ; all those whose cheeks can 
show a red colour. 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 21 

Koran readings at feast or fast or festivity, and 
above all the dhikr that door which Mohammedan 
mysticism has opened to the world of religious 
emotion. It is there he feels ; it is there he believes 
that his spirit comes in contact with the unseen and 
into the Presence. The attitude of the old mystics 
of Islam in speaking of the canonical salat and the 
uncanonical dhikr is typical. Al Ghazzali is en- 
thusiastic for the latter, in which he felt he found 
a road to God : the former he upholds indeed most 
strenuously, as a duty which must on no account be 
pretermitted, but a duty with aspects the utility of 
which, real enough he doubts not, is known only to 
Allah. Other mystics, too, have left apologiae for 
the official ordinances of Islam, but the very vigour 
they put into their f task seems to show how much 
justificatory support y %ey felt those ordinances 
needed. *\ 

As for the aesthetic element of worship, that too 
does not come from the silence and severity of 
the mosque services even the Friday Tchutba is now 
conventional. It is the highly elaborate, ornate 
chanting of the Koran an art the delight of which 
is born half of music and half of word that gives 
him that element of aesthetic uplift which in the 
West is found in storied window richly dight, in 
pealing organ, in melodies and harmonies that thrill 
and uplift the soul. Does not this susceptibility of 
the Moslem to the reading of the Koran suggest 

22 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

that beauty in the reading of prayer or scripture in 
our own churches might be more earnestly studied, 
and that opportunities lying ready to hand in this 
direction are not being made as full use of by us as 
they might easily be ? 

The hold which mysticism has upon Moslems, 
especially in the old historic countries of the East, 
and the reality of the part it plays in their religious 
lives, cannot be exaggerated. The subject demands 
more careful and detailed study than it has yet 
received, and also suggests that Christian mysticism 
should be more deeply studied with a view to 
seeing whether its message would not definitely 
appeal to those to whom the mystical element in 
religion is the most dear of all. 

Though the Mohammedan, as a rule, simply has 
no eyes for the clearest defects in his own system, 
there are aspects of Islam which individual Moslems, 
at least, find to be unsatisfactory. Some of these 
we must now study. 

As far as the present writer has observed, this 
dissatisfaction does not touch their doctrine of Allah, 
nor the souFs relation to Him. He cannot say that 
he has found evidence of inarticulate desire after 
a God of holiness and love, nor of consciences 
burdened by the sense of sin which nothing in Islam 
could relieve. To the Moslem, while still a Moslem, 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 23 

these things remain undreamed of, and if there is a 
void here, it is not an aching one. 

But it is to be believed that dissatisfaction with 
the moral ideal presented by Mohammed's character 
is already beginning to be felt by some. It is not 
unknown to come across Moslems who have realized 
that, side by side with the Traditions ascribing to 
the Prophet pious dictum and genial deed, there are 
stories which show that often he rose no higher than 
current Arab ideal and Arab practice. As incidents 
in the life of an Arab conqueror, the tales of raiding, 
private assassinations and public executions, perpetual 
enlargements of the hareem, and so forth, might be 
historically explicable and therefore pardonable ; but 
it is another matter that they should be taken as a 
setting forth of the moral ideal for all time. It has 
to be borne in mind, further, that if the results of 
the European criticism of the Traditions penetrate 
into the East (and there are signs that they will not 
fail to find some prepared soil), the old idealizing 
of Mohammed will probably become more difficult ; 
for, as we have remarked, it is in the Traditions 
that this idealizing takes place. The writer re- 
members one young Moslem of the Tradition- 
criticizing school saying to him : ' The important 
thing is to accept the Koran ; it was no part of the 
mission of the Prophet to give a moral ideal. Ac- 
cept the Koran, and then let Jesus, if you like, be 
better than Mohammed,' 

24 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

Accept the Koran! but already the note of 
dissatisfaction with that, too, can be dimly detected. 
Not for ever can the Mohammedan shut his eyes 
to the puerilities which fill so many of its pages, 
the contradiction between its commendation of the 
previous ' books ' and its still unexplained disagree- 
ment with those books' contents. These and other 
difficulties have already caused individual Moslems 
dissatisfaction and doubt ; and already a critical 
theory, unreconcilable with the form in which 
the book is cast (throughout, a direct address 
from the Deity) has been attempted in India. 
But of all sacred books the Koran least lends 
itself to such adjustment. Will its very unyielding 
rigidity, hitherto its strength, prove its destruction 
when the real strain of the testing comes ? 

Then again, though Moslems usually criticize 
Christianity for being so largely destitute of con- 
crete, detailed commands and prohibitions, the 
legalistic and casuistical evolution which Islam 
inevitably underwent has many a time provoked 
dissatisfaction. The casuistry of Abu Hamfa, one 
of the four received legists of Islam, was recently 
made the subject of bitter complaint in a leading 
article in a Cairo daily paper. The mortmain of 
the sharl'a, and the dead clutch it keeps on the 
freedom of social and political development, is 
bitterly felt and silently resented by many a re- 
former. The veil, polygamy, servile concubinage, 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 25 

the whole position of women, the inequality lying 
at the root of the conception of the Moslem state 
all these things are matters which reformers are 
burning to change, and yet must pay lip-homage 
to, because revelation seems to have given them 
their final form. The Sufi or mystic movement is 
likewise, in some aspects, a protest against the 
enslavement which every system of ordinances 
imposes on the soul in the ethical sphere. 

Such are the doubts which even now are not 
unknown, in one form or other, to many who 
know and care nothing about Christianity ; and 
when a man leaves Islam for the faith of Christ 
it is generally one or other of these doubts upon 
which his dissatisfaction has fixed. 


We have said that many a Moslem is dissatisfied 
with Islam without having the smallest leaning 
to Christianity. What then is his attitude towards 
the Christian religion when it is presented to him ? 
In what ways does it repel or attract him ? 

In most respects the instinctive antipathy and 
antagonism of Mohammedans are as great as ever 
they have been these thirteen centuries. The 
fatal blunder of the uninstructed Arabian still 
produces in his millions of followers the utter 
repudiation of all that is distinctive in Christianity. 
The case is closed ; they dare not look into it 

26 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

again, just as they dared not in the first century 
of the Hijra, when, nevertheless, they were in 
need of information which only Jews and Christians 
could give them. The real figure of Jesus Christ ; 
the fact of His death, with its ineffable beauty 
and endless significance; the Easter message of 
the empty tomb and the risen Lord ; and, needless 
to say, His divine Sonship and oneness with the 
Father ; the Fatherhood and its redeeming love 
in Christ; and the eternal Spirit of Jesus all 
these truths, together with the Book that is the 
means of their conveyance, are still to the Moslem 
a stumbling-block and foolishness. There are no 
signs of a more sympathetic study or understand- 
ing of our faith. Deliberate ignorance or con- 
temptuous acquaintance is still the rule. The one 
amelioration of the situation and surely, by the 
way, this would justify missions to Islam even if 
they did not produce a single convert is the fact 
that modern missions have at least made Moslems 
respect some Christians, and in them recognize, 
however unwillingly, the fruits of faith and love. 
In many a Moslem the old attitude of absolutely 
sincere and absolutely unmitigated contempt for 
the religion of the Nazarenes has perforce been 
modified through his respect and friendship for 
some Nazarenes, and his hearty admiration for 
their work. 

The stumbling-blocks which have been named 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 27 

cannot be avoided. They must be turned into 
stepping-stones. The doctrines in question must 
be presented by us, not as hard, formulated lumps 
of creed, but as an organic tissue of faith, warm 
with life and perpetually giving rise to new life. 
There are other stumbling-blocks, however, which 
are by no means so divine. 

The failure of Christianity to leaven all western 
life, its practical, nay, its avowed abandonment 
by so many in France and elsewhere, are grievous 
hindrances to its reception in the East. Again, 
the indescribably divided state of the Church in 
eastern lands is most naturally and inevitably 
a real stumbling-block to the Moslem. Each 
little community, however insignificant, apparently 
ascribing to itself alone all orthodoxy, intensely 
aloof, and generally instinctively hostile to its 
neighbour ; plural patriarchs for the same see, 
plural birthdays, passion- weeks, and Easters for 
the same Christ; plural altars for the members 
of the same Body while they live, and plural 
graveyards for them when they die, even in death 
hugging their own isolations, and elbowing each 
other out into the cold what sights could be 
more pitifully ridiculous, if they were not such 
an utter shame ? ; Become a Christian ! which sort 
of Christian?' . . . 'Was your Christ born twice, 
and did He die twice?' such are the questions 
which the Moslems ask. 

28 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

There are some other, if smaller, ways in which 
modern Christendom places unnecessary stumbling- 
blocks in the way of Mohammedans. When we 
have such a chance to show them the secret of 
freedom and spirituality, combined with reverence 
and order, in public prayer, it is to be regretted 
that so often carelessness with regard to outward 
things on the part of Christians should give 
Moslems the impression of slovenliness and ir- 
reverence in worship. Then, again, the matter 
of ablution is one to which sufficient thought 
has not been given. The Englishman's principle 
that cleanliness is next to godliness has, indeed, 
enabled him to solve this delicate question at 
least quite as successfully as the Mohammedan, 
who has narrowed the scope of cleanliness while 
he has gone on to make what he recognizes of 
it part of godliness. But it behoves us to see 
that Christendom in the East, in general, does not 
fail to adopt either the one guiding principle or 
the other. Ceremonial ablutions may often defeat 
their own ends ; yet this is not a matter in which, 
while protesting against the ceremonialism, Chris- 
tians can afford to offend a scruple at the base 
of which lies something of permanent value. 

The question of wine appears to the present 
writer a much more difficult one. The denuncia- 
tion of wine-drinking as essentially reprehensible, 
in conjunction with the use of it as a sacramental 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 29 

symbol, makes a contradiction so flagrant that 
it is not be wondered that the Moslems have 
stumbled at it. The terms in which the teetotal 
crusade is preached in the East need to be chosen 
with the utmost care, and unfortunately are not 
always so chosen. It is to be feared that in our 
zeal to exculpate Christianity in this matter we 
have but played into Mohammedan hands. In 
our honest endeavours to take away one stone of 
offence, have we dropped another in its place ? 


We have now touched on some points in the 
Christian faith which inspire Islam with aversion. 
Is there no more genial side to the inter-relations 
of the two religions ? Something must be said on 
this deeply important aspect. 

It may be said that there are in Christianity 
aspects common to Islam, and further, aspects which 
the Moslem can hardly but admire, even though it 
be wistfully, since he cannot find them in his own 

We hardly need to go over again the familiar 
ground of the articles of the Christian creed, which 
are, or seem to be, identical with beliefs held by 
Mohammedans, such as the unity of God, the 
reality of revelation, and others of the greatest 
moment which will occur to all. There can be no 
doubt that, on the wise principle of advancing along 

30 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

lines of least resistance, these beliefs should be 
emphasized in all Christian preaching, and indeed 
they are emphasized in every religious conversation 
in the East between Moslem and Christian, or at 
least in the tacitly understood presuppositions upon 
which it proceeds. Yet it may be suggested that 
Christians might go further along these lines. For 
example, the Moslem claim to be the only true 
Unitarians should drive the Christian to preach the 
Unity with emphasis and significance, at the same 
time making it to be felt that his tri-unitarianism 
enriches and not embarrasses his fundamental 
doctrine, ' I believe in One God.' It is possible 
that in so doing he will have Islam to thank for 
recalling him from positions which he has taken up 
to safeguard his tri-unitarianism, but which really 
threaten both the one and the other aspect of his 
doctrine of God. 

Again, it is probable that we have not profited 
as much as we might have done from points of 
contact which Islam almost involuntarily offers. 
Sometimes Islam seems to be groping after a truth 
which Christianity richly possesses. Take, for 
example, the strange Moslem version of the Logos 
doctrine, so out of keeping with the general trend 
of Moslem theological thought, so embarrassing 
to the theologian of Islam. According to this 
doctrine Allah had from all eternity a Word, 
which Word ' became ' a Jcitdb a book with a divine 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 31 

message. The nature of this pre-existence ; the 
relation of that Word in eternity to that Koran in 
time ; l the question how to conceive the transition 
from the eternal to the temporal orders these have 
proved questions metaphysically as perplexing to 
the Moslem as to the Christian theologian. But 
for that very reason they enable the latter to 
present the idea of the Christian Logos to the 
Moslem as something not inherently impossible, 
even if difficult of grasping ; something the need 
of which Moslems themselves have felt, and tried 
to import into Islam even against the whole trend 
of the system ; something which, just because it is 
so entirely in line with all Christian thought, will 
be found in Christianity more fully developed, and 
more richly satisfying by just as much as a conscious 
personality is of greater dignity than an impersonal 
book. Again, the hints dropped in the Koran and 
the Traditions of the special, the ' real ' Presence of 
God locally as well as morally (in the burning bush, 
in the ' lowest heaven,' and the like), might be used 
more than they are to press home the possibility 
of a Real Presence in Christ, and its greater reason- 
ableness by just so much as a sinless human body is 
of greater dignity than desert shrub or intermediate 

1 One standard theological text goes so far as to say that 
the Word in eternity might be properly, though less natur- 
ally, called * Koran.' 

32 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

In ways like these it may be discovered that that 
mental praeparatio which our Lord's first disciples 
undoubtedly had to enable them to receive the 
deeper mysteries of Christian monotheism, and 
which sometimes seems so hopelessly absent in 
Moslems, is to be found among them also, if it be 
carefully sought out. The Jewish ear was already 
attuned to the expression, 'Son of God'; to the 
Moslem ear, through an early misunderstanding, 
it is wholly repellent. But, as we have seen, the 
Moslem may have had some other praeparatio 
evangelica, by beginning with which the Christian 
evangelist may s-ucceed in curing him of his 
prejudice against expressions he had previously 
misunderstood. And here, again, he on his part 
may be doing the Christian evangelist a service 
by unconsciously driving the latter back to the 
Scriptures, and compelling him to ask exactly 
what God meant that first generation of Jewish 
Christians to understand by the ' Son of God ' an 
expression which had been current for centuries in 
Jewish thought, but to which their Master had 
given a new and ineffable significance. 

It is no contradiction to what has just been said, 
but rather complementary to it, to assert now that 
these points of resemblance between the two creeds 
cannot be assumed to be real identities. They are 
not so. If the essence of a thing lies in its essential 
attributes, the Moslem Allah is not the Christian 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 33 

God and Father ; still less is the 'Isa of the Koran 
the Jesus of the Gospel. The Mohammedan idea 
of revelation is not the same as ours ; and nothing 
but discomfiture can result from trying (as Christians 
in the East unfortunately often do try) to square 
the inspiration of the Scriptures with that claimed 
for the Koran. The same thing is true of other 
apparent similarities. Between the Christian and 
the Mohammedan conceptions there is no true 
identity; and yet the relationship must not be 
denied. It is as though an imperfect artist, after 
a visit to Dresden, tried to draw the face of the 
Sistine Madonna from memory. The result would 
give no true copy, not even perhaps the faintest 
resemblance. Yet a true copy was what was intended. 
It was to have been the Sistine Madonna and no 
other. And only by allowing this assumption 
could a wise teacher point out where and how the 
work had so utterly failed. Imperfect, distorted, 
null beyond all words to express it, may be the 
Mohammedan representation of our God in his 
Allah, of our Christ in his 'Isa. Yet these re- 
present his honest, his earnest attempt, and the 
Christian cannot but begin on that understanding, 
and then try to show his friend feature after feature, 
lovely and glorious, of the true portrait. The 
mental image formed by Apollos of the Christ he 
preached at Ephesus may have seemed to Aquila 
and Priscilla extraordinarily unlike the adored 

34 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

Jesus, whom they now knew, hopelessly deficient 
and at points inaccurate and misleading ; yet their 
dealing with him is summed up in that gentle 
remark, 'They took him and expounded unto him 
the way of God more carefully.' And so, while the 
Figure before Apollos' eyes did not move, the mists 
that concealed and distorted It disappeared, and Its 
divine glory shone full out. 

The character of Christ is, indeed, something 
which does attract the Moslem. Is it only our 
faulty presentation of that Figure that explains 
why the Moslem, while he allows to Jesus Christ 
every grace, seems to turn to Mohammed when he 
thinks of the attribute of strength? True, the 
category of physical force is a veritable obsession 
with Islam. Yet a doubt remains : has our por- 
traiture here done violence to the divine original? 
It is the same question which the revolt of the 
German Nietzsche in our own world and day is 
in so different a way pressing home upon the 
Church. 1 From this unworthy suspicion of weak- 
ness that Figure must be cleared. Its divine 
energy, exhaustless vigour, and resistless power 
must be given their proper emphasis : Ecce Vir ! : 
not the less, but all the more so, because He was 

1 It is not an accident that writers of this school sometimes 
show a tendency to laud Islam. Bernard Shaw, in his play, 
Getting Married^ makes one of his characters express the 
opinion that the future religion of Europe may well be a 
sort of ' reformed Mohammedanism.' 

First Study W. H. T. Galrdner 35 

so perfectly gentle with little children, so uncon- 
descendingly courteous to women ; so understanding 
with the weak and with the fallen, and so tender 
in every relation of friendship and love: Ecce 
Homo! And the story of His Passion may not, 
and must not, be represented in the telling as feeble 
passivity. Rather must that one idea, insisted on 
by the master-hand which drew the picture in the 
Fourth Gospel, be insisted on also by us, namely, 
that through and in every detail He was royal and 
divine, proving in His own insulted body that the 
weakness of God is both more majestic and stronger 
than the strength of man : Ecce Rex ! What, in fact, 
but very strength itself could have given and left His 
royalty as the uppermost impression, after a night 
and a day of unresisted mishandling? The action 
of the Passion ! The activity of its passiveness ! 

The character of Christ, then, does attract the 
Mohammedan, and will do so more and more. 
Many a Moslem, when he has fairly placed it along- 
side of the character of Mohammed, has seen the 
immeasurable difference one which is not diminished 
even when one allows to the latter all the virtues 
that can honestly be claimed for him. One cannot 
measure the importance of this fact, if the question 
at issue between the two faiths tends in the future 
to resolve itself more and more into a conflict 
between two ethical ideals, as lying at the root of 
the difference between two theologies. 

36 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

There is just one feature of the doctrine of Christ 
which does seem to have an attraction of its own 
for Moslems. They, rejecting His death, are all 
the more forward to acclaim His ascension (or 
* elevation ' as they call it), and to listen with eager 
curiosity, and sometimes with real assent, when they 
are led on from that to His living and perpetual 
intercession. The contrast between their dead 
Prophet, lying in his splendid tomb in al Medina, 
and the Christ who passed into the heavens alive, 
sometimes strikes them very forcibly. Many a 
simple Moslem man and woman has, even without 
definitely quitting Islam, found the sheet-anchor of 
a new life of faith in the one thought : ' The dead 
Prophet, the living Intercessor.' 

Other features of Christianity which often un- 
deniably attract Moslems can be only briefly noticed. 
The ethical freedom of the religion of Christ has 
been already mentioned, with the consequent absence 
of casuistical rules for the individual, and cramping 
regulations for the social and political life. But 
not many Moslems have had this revealed to them 
yet. The freedom, purposefulness, intimacy, and 
simplicity of Christian prayer is another such feature. 
It is totally different in its whole scope and aim 
from the Moslem's salat\ ampler than his quite 
undeveloped du'd ; saner and ampler than his dhikr. 
And as such it ought to impress all Moslems who 
witness it ; as such it indeed does impress some of 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 37 

them. The ideal and the practice of Christian love, 
forgiveness, truthfulness, and chastity have time and 
again extorted the admiration of Mohammedans 
when they have witnessed them. The enterprise of 
Christian missions, the unheard-of privations and 
heroisms of pioneers amid the arctic cold and dark- 
ness or the awful circumstances of African bar- 
barism, arouse in them wonder and ready praise, 
and are a real witness to the divinity of Christianity, 
or at least a standing disproof of their theory of 
its total corruption and falsity. The life of the 
Christian family, when they see it ; Christian 
womanhood, calm, capable, womanly, gracious, self- 
controlled this, too, fills them with wonder. They 
know Islam has never produced such women ; they 
know it is not producing them to-day ; they strive 
to ascribe the overwhelming difference to custom, 
race, education any reason that can be found. It 
seems impossible but that some of them have an 
inkling of the truth that Mohammed adopted and 
stereotyped the Arab conception of woman, which 
was fundamentally and finally sexual ; while Jesus 
Christ, by the silent action of a lifetime, laid the 
first emphasis on the identity of her humanity 
rather than on the difference of her sex, thus both 
dignifying her and man in his attitude to her. 

In regard to the more theological aspects of 
Christianity, the writer is unable to say that any 
Christian conception naturally attracts Moslems, 

38 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

or appeals to any conscious craving on their part. 
It is only when for one cause or other a Moslem's 
faith in Islam is shaken, and he finds a home in 
Christianity, that very gradually his thoughts about 
God expand and demand to find in Him what only 
Christ has ever revealed. 

It will have become already fairly clear what 
aspects of the Christian faith it seems to the present 
writer need most strongly to be emphasized; what 
aspects, we might say, Islam teaches us to emphasize, 
to realize afresh, in some cases, perhaps, even to 
rediscover. In this final section we shall try to 
gather together and complete suggestions that 
have already been made in the preceding pages. 

The unity of God needs to be emphasized afresh. 
Some presentations of the Atonement that were 
distressingly suggestive of tritheism, even to the 
extent of asserting the existence of differences of 
ethical character within the Godhead, may be 
henceforth buried, surely unlamented. The em- 
phasis on the Unity makes the Incarnation and 
Atonement much more divine because much more 
God's acts. 6 God so loved the world . . .' ' God was 
in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself . . .' 
And the more they are realized as God's sole acts, 
the greater and more significant they appear. 

Moreover, until the divine Unity has been 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 39 

grasped and re-emphasized, the enriching effect, the 
real value of the revelation of Father, Son, and Spirit, 
cannot be felt. To find love, and social life, and 
relations of reciprocal joy in the very heart of God- 
head is surely to be assured for ever of the personality 
of God, and to be made secure from the negations 
of deism on one side and pantheism on the other, 
into both of which Moslem thought tends constantly 
to fall. It means, too, the final redemption of our 
conception of God from mere barren sovereignty, 
loveless and unloved ; from the revolting callousness 
of absolutism, with its arbitrary cruelties and 
favours, an absolutism no more worthy of man's 
gratitude or respect than that of Setebos as con- 
ceived by Caliban a conception, nevertheless, 
which is normal and invariable in Moslem thought. 

We have already seen that the real attraction 
which mysticism has for Mohammedans is a call to 
the Christian Church. If mysticism had at first 
some difficulty in finding its way into the Moslem 
scheme, and if the reconciliation of Sufi dhikr with 
canonical salat once caused embarrassment, no such 
difficulty existed in Christianity, for which the 
two words EN CHRISTO enshrined a divine mysticism 
in the heart of religion from the very outset, and 
which was unembarrassed by the formal rigidities 
of Islam. Do not these facts constitute a call to 
the Christian Church more deeply to experience all 
that lies EN CHRISTO, and further to attempt to 

4O Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

interpret and preach that experience to Moham- 
medans ? Let a Christian Sufiism appeal to the 
heart of the Sufiism of Islam. 

Islam, again, alike by the shallowness of its ethical 
conceptions of Allah, and the consequent shallowness 
of its ethical doctrine of man, drives us to emphasize 
and realize afresh those two burning attributes of 
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ His 
holiness and His love. From these two, each the 
obverse of the other, follows as by divine naturalness 
and necessity that self-sacrifice of love to save the 
sinner from his sin which we call the Atonement. 
And Islam, as we have seen, by its uncompromising 
insistence on the Unity, helps us to find the love 
and the action of God at the beginning, middle, and 
end of the entire redemptive work, both for the race 
and the individual. 

Islam with its obsession for the category of power 
and force compels Christian thought to see more 
clearly the bearing of its own fundamental asser- 
tions. All power must indeed be ascribed unto 
God but what power ? The reaction against the 
barren Moslem doctrine of omnipotence leads us to 
perceive that physical omnipotence is as feeble 
a category, ethically, as either brute force or 
mechanical power ; that ethical omnipotence, in 
certain moments of its work, may well seem to spell 
weakness in the physical sphere ; that, nevertheless, 
the weakness of God is stronger than the strength 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 41 

of man * and that the Cross was the victory of a 
distinctively divine and distinctively human strength, 
which the living glow and splendour of the Resur- 
rection did but vindicate and demonstrate. We 
have already seen how Islam, like some modern 
philosophies, makes us study once more the inex- 
haustible portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ, and find 
in every feature of its strength, life and energy 
divine ; a strength of which His gentleness was the 
ideal obverse ; and which transmuted the very types 
of utmost earthly indignity into circumstances of 
royalty itself. 

From Islam, too, we may gain a clearer realization 
that it behoved Him, the principle of whose life was 
self-communication, to have for all eternity a con- 
scious Word, and no mere unconscious principle or 
attribute ; One who in that inscrutable ' becoming ' 
(which after all merely expresses the oncoming of 
eternity on time) 'became flesh,' perfect man in 
the image of God ; whose ' words ' are not, like the 
limited vocables of the Koran, collected between the 
two covers of a book, but are rather the total self- 
expression of a perfect life, which never spoke more 
eloquently than in the perfect silence of His sacrifice. 
The limited Koran against the limitless Christ ! 

In the religious ethical life we have already seen 
what qualities appeal strongly to Moslems, and what 
by the grace of God the Church must show forth. 
But one word may be added. In all the perplexities 

42 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

of the problem of sex, both social and individual, 
one thing stands out clear that the incessant 
sounding of the sexual note in the Koran, the Tra- 
ditions, the canon law, and in the poetry, literature, 
theology, and entire system of Islam, tends to make 
impossible the highest individual, family, or social 
life, and defeats the very ends it appears to have 
had in view. In its attitude of man to woman, of 
woman to man, Islam seems to us to have hopelessly 
missed both dignity and beauty, and to be far from 
having secured happiness; and that because it has 
made woman in every way a prisoner of sex, and 
thus has shut up man to a merely sexual way of 
regarding her. Islam claims, on the other hand, to 
have accommodated itself to the facts of human 
nature, and, like certain modern philosophies of the 
West, accuses Christianity of having sinned against 
human nature in having commanded impossible 
renunciations. Such accusations may indeed lead 
Christianity to take stock of itself, and to see 
whether its true assertion of the paramount necessity 
and possibility of self-discipline may have led to 
negations and abnegations which are no part of the 
message of Him in whom the totality of human 
nature was sanctified. But apart from the corrective 
of exaggerations to which criticism may lead, the fact 
remains unshaken that the relation of man to woman 
and of woman to man which was made possible by 
Jesus Christ, is in truth the sanest as well as the 

First Study W. H. T. Gairdner 43 

purest, the strongest and the richest and the most 
perfectly human. The Spirit of Jesus teaches that 
the highest and the happiest solution of the sex 
problem is won in the out-and-out acceptance of the 
subordination of impulse to self-discipline ; and that 
this unstrained self-discipline, in which alone impulse 
itself finds its true human interpretation and God- 
ordained satisfaction, is made possible by Jesus 
Christ for whoever wills its possibility, without any 
despairing negation or abnegation whatsoever. 

The Spirit of Jesus in this word all that we 
have been trying to express in this concluding 
section is summed up. Only that Spirit can avail 
with Islam. And yet, it is because the Church, 
whose one sole asset that Spirit is, needs in every 
generation to rediscover His fulness it is because 
of this that she may perhaps learn some lesson from 
her great antagonist, perhaps see that antagonist 
unconsciously motioning her towards aspects of His 
fulness which otherwise, it may be, might have 
escaped her eyes. 


By the Rev. W. A. SHEDD, D.D., Board of 
Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church 
in the U.S.A. ; Uruinia, Persia. 



By the Rev. W. A. SHEDD, D.D. 

THE purpose of this paper is to reproduce the 
impression received during residence in a Moslem 
land from contact with Mohammedans in school 
work, religious discussion, social intercourse, and 
the various affairs of daily life. It is not an 
attempt to maintain a thesis, or to give an account 
of any phase of missionary work, or even to give 
the writer's final conclusions. He has sought to 
be frank and sympathetic in his relations with 
Mohammedans, among whom he feels it an honour 
to count not a few friends, and the effort will be 
to be candid in this attempted transcript of his 
impressions. In the nature of the case specific 
proofs cannot be cited for every statement. The 
range of observation is limited to one country and 
mainly to a single province, and to the smaller of 
the two great divisions of Islam, viz., to the Shi'a 
Mohammedans of the province of Azerbaijan in 
Persia. The paper is in part also an attempt to 
describe the attitude of Mohammedans towards 


48 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

their own religion and towards Christianity. This 
again, in the very nature of the case, is very difficult 
to do with fairness. In one respect there is perhaps 
danger of over-estimating the difficulty. The pro- 
foundness of the difference between the East and 
the West in their views of truth and attitude 
towards life has been a favourite subject of writers 
on Asiatic matters. No one can live in the East 
and attempt to enter into eastern life without 
again and again being baffled by the different point 
of view from which Asiatics look at things ; but 
the conviction has grown in the writer's mind with 
the experience of passing years that the chasm is 
not impassable by any means. The theory that 
the race is divided into sections which are mutually 
inaccessible in intellectual and spiritual things is 
refuted by the whole trend of modern history. 
The social ideals of the West are penetrating the 
East and are laying hold of the masses in those 
lands. Under these conditions one has a right 
to expect that the religious ideas that have inspired 
Europe and America may be so presented in their 
inherent power that they may lay hold on the 
Mohammedan world. 


What is the Moslem's attitude to his own 
religion? Which are the elements that hold him 
with living power, and which are those whose hold 

Second Study W. 4. Shedd 49 

is weak or which he would throw off? Two pre- 
liminary remarks may be made. Obviously one must 
beware of universal statements. Mohammedans 
vary, as do Christians, in temperament and in 
education. A doctrine or a practice that holds 
one man with a powerful attraction may be re- 
pellent to another. In the second place, tendencies 
of thought and of theological development may be 
more significant than outspoken praise or blame. 
The former may be the unconscious expression of 
a deep need on the part of many, while the latter 
may represent the passing mood of a few. Usually 
the former is the summing up of a much larger 
experience than the latter. 

Faith in one living God is certainly an element with 
living power. There are a good many sceptics in 
Persia but there are very few atheists. The language 
of everyday life is saturated with the acknowledg- 
ment of the living power of God. Most of the 
phrases, such as 'If God will,' * Praise be to God,' 
' God forbid,' are thoughtless expressions of habit 
and not acts of conscious faith ; and yet custom in 
its origin is crystallized conviction, and if the 
conviction is lost the custom will pass into disuse. 
Besides, there are other evidences for the faith. 
There are very few suicides in Moslem lands, and 
that not because life is easy and men are contented. 
The reason is that the hereafter and the judgment 
are too vividly real for men to take liberties of 

50 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

that sort. The writer was talking not long since 
with a Moslem in a railway carriage in Russia and 
the conversation turned on recent political changes 
in Persia. The Moslem said that he believed that 
the Russian intervention was the means used by 
God to cast down the oppressors and to relieve the 
oppressed. It was not the expression of assumed 
piety but of a real conviction. Another Moslem 
was in the habit of saying that life's contrarieties 
prove God's existence, meaning that the thwarting 
of our wills is the evidence of a higher will. Islam 
assumes, and men assume in their daily lives, that 
this living God has a direct relation to men. He 
has sent a line of great prophets who have revealed 
His will for man in the form of law. He accepts 
worship and He hears prayer. Fatalism is not the 
ruling conception of the universe among Persian 
Shi'ite Moslems. The feeling of helplessness in 
the hands of an all-powerful Ruler is not absent, 
but it is softened both in theology and in popular 
feeling. What may be called the feeling that 
God is good-natured is very common. 4 God is 
gracious (karim) ' is a very common expression, and 
the idea seems to be that He is not vindictive 
and will pass over little faults, especially in 
Mohammedans. The Nestorian Christian in an 
exactly similar way falls back on the expression, 
6 God is merciful.' In both instances the effect on 
morality is disastrous. The value of the faith in 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 51 

God's living power is limited by the defects in the 
character of God as conceived by Moslems, but the 
faith itself enters into life in innumerable ways. 

The legalistic idea of merit plays a large part 
in life. This is the idea that certain acts, either 
those prescribed by the law or endorsed by religious 
custom, such as the fast and the various pilgrimages, 
or acts of mercy, are reckoned by God to the 
advantage of the doer. Theoretically the motive 
of the act enters into the reckoning of merit ; but 
practically this element has a very small part in it, 
so that one may say that in the popular idea the 
reward is not based on the ethical character of 
the act but is in large measure arbitrary. The 
thousands of pilgrims who every year go to the 
shrines and above all to Kerbala, the general 
observance of the Ramadhan fast, the unintelligent 
reading of the Arabic Koran, the building of 
bridges, the indiscriminate giving of alms, and 
the support of religious mendicants are evidences 
of the power of this conception. No religious force 
works in more ways and more universally than 

In Persia, faith in the Imamat is another almost 
universal force. This implies that God not only 
reveals His will through the prophets but is in a 
more or less clearly defined way actually present 
in human life in some person, pre-eminently in the 
line of the Imams, 'All and his descendants. This 

52 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

faith works out in various sects in manifold ways. 
It lay at the bases of the claims of Sayyid 'All 
Mohammed, the Bab, and of his more famous 
successor, Bahau'llah. Around Lake Urumia in 
recent years a sect has gathered about the person 
of a religious teacher in Maragha, who claimed to 
be in some sense the resting-place of the divine 
presence. It is startling, perhaps, but thoroughly 
typical, to be told by a watchmaker in his dingy 
little shop in the bazaar, after a discussion of the 
alleged necessity of the presence of a representative 
of the Twelfth Imam, ' 1 am He,' i.e., 'I am the 
one in whom for this time and place this divine 
presence is to be found.' Such sects appear and 
disappear with each generation. Among the 'All 
Ilahis, an ancient heretical sect and by far the 
most numerous of them all, the divine power is 
centered hi the Pirs, as their religious heads are 
called. The honour paid by the Persians to the 
Sayyids is connected with this belief, as they all 
claim descent from 'All. It covers and excuses a 
vast amount of rascality and rapacity. 

Probably no Roman Catholic calls more instinct- 
ively on the Virgin and the saints for help than 
does a Shi'ite Moslem on the Imams. The writer 
was once becalmed on the Lake of Urumia and the 
passengers, under the leadership of a lusty Sayyid, 
relieved the monotony of the hot and tiresome 
delay by praying for a wind. All in chorus would 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 53 

implore help from the great prophets and the 
Imams, calling on each one in turn. 

Closely allied to this belief is another religious 
force that is exceedingly strong among the people 
here. This is allegiance to a personal guide. It is 
the principle about which the dervish orders and 
the more irregular religious devotees cluster. The 
practices, such as the dhiJcrs, in which the attempt 
is made to secure a mystical union with the divine 
through an emotional or sub-conscious bond, are 
carried on under the personal leadership of a murshid. 
The religion of the Kurds, who are Sunnis and not 
Shf as, has for one of its main principles allegiance 
to their shaikhs, by whom they swear and to whom 
they do abject reverence. This allegiance is not 
tribal nor wholly hereditary, and to some extent it 
is voluntary, i.e., the individual chooses the religious 
leader whom he accepts. The authority descends 
more or less from father to son, but it is based 
originally on a reputation for ascetic holiness and 
devotion to religion. These shaikhs are, in many 
cases at least, descended from the Sayyids, or reputed 
descendants of the Prophet. The idea of personal 
authority underlies the ecclesiastical organization 
in Persian Islam, if it can properly be called an 
organization. There is no formal hierarchy, although 
the authority of the mujtdhids, or accepted expounders 
of the law, is very great. The basis of the authority 
in practice, if not in theory, is democratic, and the 

54 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

measure of a mujtahuTs authority is largely the 
amount and character of his popular following. 
Certain places, especially sacred shrines like Kerbala 
and Meshed and to a less extent cities of political 
importance, are recognized as sees of religious 
authority ; but the choice of the occupant of any 
given see is exceedingly irregular and democratic. 
Acquaintance with a Persian will often reveal the 
fact that he is the disciple (murld) of some miytahid, 
or it may be of a less authorized religious teacher, 
whom he regards as in a special sense his religious 
director and teacher. This element of personal 
influence is in accordance with the whole scheme of 
life, in which favour accorded on the basis of friend- 
ship and acquaintance plays a great part. The 
shopkeeper as a personal favour will change his 
price and the official will for your sake grant what 
is only your right. In civil life men will often put 
themselves under the protection of some powerful 
man, who has no legal claim on their allegiance, and 
he will accept them as his proteges. In religion this 
idea is found in the mediatorship of the prophets 
and holy men with Mohammed at their head, for 
whose sake the Ruler of the universe grants favours 
and forgives sin. 

It will be noted that the religious forces named 
do not all strictly belong to Islam. A full account 
would include a great mass of belief in magic, evil 
eye, charms, shrines, fortune-tellers, and such like, 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 55 

which cannot be described briefly and yet play a 
large part in the religious life of the people. For 
example, in the city where the writer lives one of 
the principal figures is a woman, a Jewish proselyte 
to Islam, who is something of a ventriloquist and 
evidently very shrewd. She claims to have a spirit 
at her service whom she calls Mohammed, who finds 
lost articles, gives information as to absent relatives, 
or foretells the future. She is consulted by all 
classes, including many Christians. Similarly 
Christian shrines are visited by Moslems to secure 
the favour of the patron saint. In a more intel- 
lectual way eclecticism is a living force. The tend- 
ency among many who are weary of the burdens and 
frivolities of traditional Islam is to fall back on a 
more or less vague theism, which is taken as the 
common foundation of the great religions. One is 
often told that the revelation is the same, though 
the mediums of revelation vary, that the actor is 
the same, though the mask and voice are changed. 
This has a basis in the claim of Mohammed that his 
message is the same in substance as that of Abraham 
and succeeding prophets. It is often joined with 
faith in some special religious leader, who claims to 
guide men anew in the one way of life. 

Dissatisfaction with Islam may be traced along 
two lines. One is the expressed statements of 

56 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

individuals, and the other the attempt to supply 
deficiencies by importing and developing practices 
from without. Perhaps the second is the more 
significant. The most outspoken complaint is 
against the mullas and traditional practices favoured 
by them. A cartoon in a paper published in 
Turkish by Moslems of Tiflis pictures the old and 
new eras. In the former a mulla is pulling a crowd 
of men along by a rope, while in the latter the rope 
is broken and the mulla is tumbling headlong. A 
Mohammedan recently made the statement that 
in certain regions to call a man an akhfund (or 
preacher) is equivalent to reviling him. This is a 
revolt against abuses that are capable of reform 
without touching the essence of the faith. The 
nationalist revival in Persia leads occasionally to 
revolt against Islam as a foreign religion imposed 
on Persia by conquerors. An expression of this 
feeling in a newspaper was the cause of its suppres- 
sion. There is complaint against the minute and 
vexatious requirements of the law, which expresses 
itself largely in the neglect of those requirements. 
There is a growing looseness in the keeping of the 
fast, though the breach is mainly in private and not 
in public. A zealous progressive suggested in his 
newspaper the abolition of the veil for women, with 
the result that he stayed a long time in prison. 
This complaint against the law strikes at one of the 
fundamentals of the religion ; for while the law may 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 57 

be drastically pruned without touching the Koran, 
its roots and some of its branches are in the holy 
book. Babism, or Bahaism, is largely an expression 
of this dissatisfaction, which it meets not by doing 
away with ritual law but by substituting a new law 
for the old. Any attempt to establish legislative 
government is bound to accentuate this conflict, for 
the idea of Islam is that government is not estab- 
lished to make law, but to enforce the already 
existing sacred law, which covers all departments of 

An element of apparent strength in Islam is the 
brevity and simplicity of its creed and the way of 
salvation it offers. This is an apparent element of 
strength, because there is a great latitude of freedom, 
provided only the articles of faith are professed. 
The Mohammedanism of the schools is supplemented 
by a multitude of beliefs and practices, which are for 
the most part not Mohammedan in origin ; and 
even the scholastic theology, through the medium 
or under cover of the traditions, has incorporated 
foreign elements. Almost any sect is tolerated in 
Persia, provided only that the creed, the fast, and 
a few other matters are respected so far as out- 
ward profession is concerned. The history of the 
incorporation of Sufiism and the theory and practice 
of mysticism are to the point. These sentences 
are being written on the tenth of Muharram, the 
anniversary of the tragedy of Kerbala, in the mind 

58 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

of the Shi'ites the great martyrdom of history. 
From the city come the sounds of the mourning 
processions that pass along the streets, and they 
bring to the imagination the long lines of men and 
boys beating and cutting themselves in token of 
their participation in the grief of the tragedy. 
To-day is the great day, but for ten days private 
and public life has been subordinated to the same 
religious purpose. Sermons, poems, theatrical re- 
presentations, and religious symbolism have all kept 
before the mind the day of Kerbala. This is the 
great religious demonstration of the year and also 
the national and patriotic celebration. Not only in 
its historical basis is it later than Mohammed but 
in its theological idea it is not Koranic. The bases 
on which it rests are the Imamat and atonement 
through suffering, the abiding presence of the divine 
in humanity and forgiveness based on propitiation. 
It is an attempt to meet the deep needs of the 
human heart which were ignored by the Prophet, 
and to make of Islam a national faith in spite of 
the Arabs who murdered the descendants of the 
Prophet. Strangely enough the fiercest partisans 
of the house of 'All and the most fanatical patriots 
are Turkish subjects of Persia, who nevertheless 
claim the heritage of Iran and not of Turan. The 
civilized and irreligious Persian may scoff at the 
ceremonies of Muharram, or grumblingly make 
public compliance to its demands, but it is the 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 59 

central fact in religion for the vast majority of 
Persian Shi'ites. The preaching in the village 
mosques mainly concerns itself with the story of the 
Imams and bases the hope of salvation on their 
sufferings. Surely here is a deep and widespread, 
though unconscious, dissatisfaction, which in order 
to meet its need has created a myth and founded a 
national cult. 


The attempt may next be made to determine 
the attitude of the Mohammedan to Christianity, 
and to see how contact with it affects him. He 
is brought up to look on Christianity as a religion 
whose day is past, or possibly as one that answers 
well enough for the Christians but which is inferior 
to Islam. The question between Islam and Chris- 
tianity was closed long ago by the Prophet and 
sealed by the victories of the former. Islam was 
predicted, he believes, by Jesus Christ, and the 
failure to accept it is due partly to the fact that 
the true Injil was taken to heaven, and what 
remains is a book of distorted traditions. New 
light may arise for Islam by the coming of the 
Imam Mahdi or by some working of the hidden 
Imam, but not from Christianity. This assured 
position is shaken perhaps by the discovery that 
among some Christians there is a degree of truth- 
fulness and unselfish service, such as he has not 

60 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

found in Islam; while further acquaintance may 
reveal to him that his ideas as to the beliefs of 
Christianity were largely erroneous, for example, 
that the Trinity is not three separate Persons, 
two of whom were of human origin, and that 
Christ is not regarded as the Son of God in the 
sense that he had supposed. On the other hand, 
the superficial contact of a Mohammedan with 
Christians may have a repellent influence. Most 
of them meet him only in trade and their object 
is to get the best of him in a bargain. Others, 
it may be, are representatives of European Powers, 
which according to his belief are set on exploiting 
if not destroying his nation. Western social habits 
are such as to be misunderstood and often to cause 
baseless scandal. To his mind many of the Euro- 
peans whom he knows seem to be destitute of 
religion. A Persian who professes no religion and 
whose language is devoid of religious expressions is 
practically unknown, although his profession may be 
very different from his actual belief. The mutual 
recriminations of Christians of different sects have 
their share in strengthening his prejudices against 
all, though he has too often heard the tradition 
that there will be seventy-two or seventy-three 
sects in Islam to regard division as much of an 
argument against a religion. The above is not a 
complete statement of the difficulties that lie in 
the way of a Moslem giving to Christianity a fair 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 61 

hearing. The fear of the consequences of conversion, 
caused by the intolerance of Islam, is an important 
element. Ignorance, prejudice, contempt of subject 
races, misunderstanding, suspicion, fanatical pride, 
and the effect of the sins, errors, and lack of tact on 
the part of Christians help to pile up obstacles. 

Other difficulties come up when he gives to 
Christianity a hearing. The doctrines of the 
Trinity and of the deity of our Lord have been 
obstacles from the time of the Koran, and they 
are often made more difficult by the manner of 
their presentation. If he is persuaded to read the 
New Testament, he may find new difficulties in 
the form of the book, which is so unlike his idea 
of what a sacred book should be. He may be 
struck with the absence of law, which he has been 
taught is the object above all others of revelation. 
He has been taught that Christ was not really 
crucified, and so he is puzzled by the story of 
the crucifixion and the resurrection. The com- 
posite authorship of the book is also against his 
preconceived ideas. Possibly, too, the Christians 
seem to him in their informal references to the 
Bible and unconventional use of it not to show 
the reverence due to a divine book. His whole 
conception of religion is very different from the 
Christian conception. He has been taught and 
even liberal Moslems seem to believe it that in 
the Koran are to be found science, jurisprudence, 

62 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

politics, social ethics, and all else that enters into 
human life. The present leader of the Bahais, 
'Abbas Effendi, states this idea of religion very 
definitely in relation to the Manifestation or 
Educator, whose guidance is to include by way 
of definite instruction every sphere of life. New 
Testament Christianity makes no such claim. It 
is a gospel, centred in the life, teaching, death 
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The miraculous 
element in the life is not a difficulty to the 
Moslem. Much in the teaching he cannot but 
admire, though the form is not what he expects. 
The chief offence is the cross. Recently I looked 
over some popular religious manuals published in 
the Transcaucasian (or Azerbaijan) Turkish by 
the more progressive Moslems. In them the story 
of Jesus is that founded on the suggestion of 
the Koran that He was rescued by God from 
death, some one else dying in His stead. The 
New Testament says that Christ died for sinners, 
willingly offering Himself. The Moslem says 
that a sinner died unwillingly in Christ's stead. 
For the glory of sacrifice the Moslem substitutes 
an escape wrought by God. This is done not 
out of perverseness, but from a desire to honour 
the Lord Jesus by saving Him from the shame 
of the cross. Little wonder that the epistles do 
not appeal with power to Moslems, for they are 
saturated with faith in the death of Jesus. The 

Second Study PP. A. Shedd 63 

conception of religion is different, and with this go 
different conceptions of salvation, of sin, and of 
forgiveness. The evangelical Christian and the 
Moslem move religiously on different planes. 

Another difficulty lies in the sphere of character 
and ethical practice. The most deep-seated de- 
moralization in Persian character is the result of 
the intolerance of Islam. Very possibly it goes 
back to the rule of the Zoroastrian clergy under 
the Sassanian kings, but at all events it was in- 
tensified by the Arab conquest. One may believe 
that the conception of an almighty and living 
God preached with the force of faith was a great 
factor in the conquest of Persia by Islam ; but the 
sword was the most prominent factor and there 
must have been much insincere profession. As 
time passed and the irresistible speculativeness of 
the Persian mind produced variations of doctrine, 
some of them revolutionary in character, the in- 
sincerity became more widespread, particularly 
among the intellectuals. Finally Shi'ite Islam 
formally recognized the rightfulness of insincere 
profession ; and this theory of ethics is accepted 
by every Persian sect, including the Bahals, and is 
practised by all. The greatest difficulty in presenting 
truth to a Persian is not the separation in intel- 
lectual conceptions and religious ideals, but the lack 
of sincerity and frankness in all religious intercourse. 
Christianity must not and cannot meet men on any 

64 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

basis but that of truthfulness, and that common 
meeting-place is hard to secure in Persia. This 
insincerity may be covered by politeness, affability, 
and intellectual acuteness, but at bottom it is 
stubborn and ugly. 


The solvent that removes the prejudices of 
Moslems is love expressed in beneficent deeds and 
in unselfish character. Probably the greatest work 
that Christian missions have done in Mohammedan 
lands is to present in life and deed the fruits of 
Christianity. Hospitals, schools, relief of poverty, 
and integrity and honour in daily life have pre- 
sented a new idea of service, religion, and manhood. 
This ideal differs from that of the saints of Islam. 
The position of woman in the Christian home and 
society has an attraction, especially for women. 
Many of them realize something of the evils caused 
by polygamy and divorce, and in general the 
relation of the sexes is so different in the two 
religions that the contrast cannot but be striking. 
More important than institutional Christianity is 
the influence of personal character in the social 
relations of life. Just what this has meant in 
Persia is shown in the biography of Dr. Cochran 1 

1 The Foreign Doctor : A Biography of Joseph Plumb 
Cochran, M.D., of Persia. New York : Fleming H. Revell 
Company, 1911. 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 65 

by Dr. Robert E. Speer. After his death Dr. 
Cochran's character was lauded by one of the most 
orthodox preachers in Urumia in a sermon in the 
mosque, and no one can tell how many prejudices 
were softened by that life of sincere service. The 
solvent that will remove the mass of misconception 
and mis-information is knowledge imparted in as 
non-controversial a way as possible. Much is being 
done to accomplish this indirectly, but there is need 
also for direct efforts in this direction. Not long 
since a mulla was for a few months a patient in a 
missionary hospital. He was a preacher of con- 
siderable reputation in l^s home city, and so he 
would influence the opinion of others as to Chris- 
tianity. Before he left he asked for several copies 
of a little book that states in an uncontroversial 
way the doctrines of evangelical Christianity, in 
order that he might show his Moslem friends how 
erroneous were their ideas of the Christian religion. 
The social and political results of Christianity are 
far less effective than its manifestation in personal 
character. For one thing, the Oriental has not 
learned to judge religion by such standards, and 
besides, the faults and shortcomings of western 
civilization are obtruded on his view. Influences from 
the West are tending to undermine Islam and are 
producing scepticism and materialism, and the most 
constructive of them is the missionary influence. 
The purity and nobility of the moral ideas set 

66 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

forth in the teachings of Jesus attract some. A 
teacher of Moslem theology of some prominence 
once remarked to the writer that he believed that 
the teacher par excellence of morals and manhood is 
Jesus Christ. Some sayings, such as those about 
marriage, are criticized as impracticable, but never- 
theless the attraction of the ideal is great. Another 
attractive element in the ethical character of 
Christianity is its adaptability to progress and 
freedom, because its ethics are not embodied in a 
legal code and because religion in its origins is not 
tied up with government. Argument along this 
line at least gains a respectful hearing. Some see 
that church and state in Islam are inseparable, 
or separable only under non-Moslem rule, and 
that this is a great obstacle to social progress. 
The contrast on this point between Christ and 
Mohammed can be very helpful. One young man 
of uncommon purity of character was attracted to 
Christianity by the contrast between the sensual 
paradise of Islam and the spiritual heaven of which 
his teacher told him and which he found in the 
New Testament. Especially with the simple and 
more ignorant the gospel story of our Lord is 
attractive. The learned are apt to lose its beauty 
in the marvellous legends of Jesus found in the 
Traditions. The gospel story takes the hearer into 
the heart of Christianity, and it brings up in a 
non-controversial way the fundamental differences 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 67 

between Christianity and Islam. As already 
pointed out, the death and resurrection of Christ 
have no place in Mohammedanism, and with this 
is connected the vital difference in the conception 
of salvation. So also anything that will lead 
Moslems to read the Scriptures is of great value. 
They at least will have many misconceptions 
corrected and may be led to deeper inquiry. The 
greatest attractive force is Christ Himself. No 
Moslem can speak of Him with anything but 
reverence, and we can let Him speak in His words 
in the gospels. The most uncompromising claims 
of Christianity are in those words. Just so far as 
we can base His claims on His own words, we make 
them strong. We must present Him, as He offered 
Himself, as the light and truth of the world and 
as the saviour and king of men. 

A topic of importance is the relation of the 
teachings of Islam to those of Christianity. The 
history of the rise and development of Islam would 
lead one to expect a close relation, and experience 
shows that the relation is complicated. A 
Mohammedan receives Christian truth into a mind 
filled with a large amount of belief. These pre- 
vious beliefs can by no possibility be all expelled, 
even if it were desirable. Any attempt to dis- 
possess a man of all his religious convictions in order 

68 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

that he may receive a totally new set is absurd. 
Furthermore, Christian faith is not a set of beliefs, 
but the acceptance of a personal saviour ; and faith 
itself must be trusted to take possession of the 
heart and mind and to expel the alien affections 
and opinions. With a man born into a Christian 
environment a more or less definite set of Christian 
beliefs forms a part of that environment. He may 
himself conclude later that the beliefs are only partly 
Christian, or are only partially true to the facts of 
science or experience, and in all probability, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, the beliefs will change. 
Every intelligent Christian must be more or less 
aware of such a process in his experience. We must 
expect a similar process in the case of the Moham- 
medan who is drawn to Christ, and must not despise 
the day of small things. On the other hand, in order 
that a man should look to Christ as a saviour there 
must be certain convictions, e.g., that he is himself 
in need of salvation, that there is a divine power that 
seeks to save, and that sin is not the inevitable con- 
dition of mankind. As he inquires after Christ, he 
finds that Christ Himself makes certain assertions 
regarding God and man, and makes certain claims 
regarding Himself. It is not necessary or possible 
that the sinner seeking a saviour should accept 
definitely or understand fully all that is involved in 
those assertions and claims ; but it is inconceivable, 
for example, that a man should accept Christ as 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 69 

saviour and not say after Him, ' Our Father who art 
in heaven.' 

The beliefs that seem thus to be inextricably 
related to the acceptance of salvation in Christ are 
not the same as those which revelation and Christian 
history have found it necessary to elaborate regard- 
ing the facts of spiritual life, and which may be 
essential in the subsequent Christian life. Even 
these latter cannot be ignored altogether in pre- 
senting the Christian faith to a Mohammedan. 
For example, the doctrine of the Trinity has been 
accepted by the Church and has become a part of 
its living experience. To the Mohammedan, as to 
most Christians, this doctrine stands in the fore- 
front of Christianity as a presupposition, and not 
as a product of Christian life. The Christian 
missionary, although he may not believe that it is 
one of the primary doctrines for an inquirer, cannot 
ignore it or say that it belongs to esoteric Chris- 
tianity, for there is no such distinction, and cannot 
be. The missionary must meet the issue and state 
the belief of Christians in the way best calculated 
to give the true impression, realizing meantime that 
the way of faith is the knowledge of God as father, 
finding in Jesus Christ a divine saviour, and experi- 
encing in his life the working of the Holy Spirit. 
He can at least testify that this doctrine, which has 
been made a stumbling block, is to him the expres- 
sion of the deepest experience of the soul and of 

7O Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the facts of redemption, and can strive to show 
how it makes the thought of God, the ineffable and 
absolute, nearer and richer in meaning, and intel- 
lectually more conceivable in His attributes and 
nature and in His relation to His creatures. Other 
doctrines that must be stated and defended are 
our belief as to Christ the Son, and our acceptance 
of the Holy Scriptures. 

In brief, while the great end of missionary effort 
is not the substitution of one set of beliefs for 
another, but the presentation of Christ as saviour, 
this implies a certain amount of doctrine, and in 
its working in life is inevitably associated with a 
body of more or less definite teaching. One must 
trust the ' implanted word ' to win the day for truth, 
once it comes into close quarters with error in the 
soul's warfare, and yet the openness and honesty of 
Christianity require that we state our beliefs and 
defend them. 

It is obvious that the teachings received with 
Christianity, and those accompanying Moham- 
medanism, must in some measure lie side by side 
in the mind of any Moslem who receives in any 
degree Christian truth. How far will they come 
into conflict? How far is that conflict immediate 
and how far is it more remote and the result of 
the working out of belief? And how far will 
the beliefs previously accepted fit in with and 
strengthen those coming with Christian faith? It 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 71 

is the conviction of the writer that there is no 
immediate casting off of one belief in God and 
the acceptance of another. Christians and Moslems 
are both believers in the Unity, the one God, 
creator and controller of all things. Probably no 
Mohammedan would seriously object to the reply 
in the Westminster Catechism to the question, 
'What is God?' except perhaps to the word 
6 Spirit,' and then largely because of a confusion of 
terms. As the Christian revelation and experience 
fill the word 'God' with richer meaning, the 
Mohammedan will find how utterly inadequate 
his conception was and alien elements will dis- 
appear. Our part is to strive to lead men to find 
the Father, or to find that Allah is Father, and 
that this name is greater than all those recounted 
on the beads of the pious. The type of Christian 
doctrine needed is not the high Calvinism that 
would limit His Fatherhood, nor is it the 
inchoate belief in a power working for righteous- 
ness. We have no right to lose the sturdiness of 
the Mohammedan's faith, though we may deplore 
its bareness of ethical content and the remoteness 
of God from the heart. The Persian idea of God 
is not so rigid as the Arab's, perhaps because his 
home is not in the wastes of the desert, and one 
has the right to use faith in God's immanence, 
though it may have degenerated into pantheism ; 
his yearning for an incarnation, though it has led 

72 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

to subjugation to unworthy pretenders; and his 
revolt from absolute fatalism. 

The second article in the creed of Islam is 
incompatible with Christian faith. It is not very 
material what view is taken of the character of 
Mohammed. The claims made by his western 
apologists are mainly relative to his age and not 
absolute, as those of Christ, and if admitted go 
only a little way to substantiate what the Moham- 
medan means in confessing that Mohammed is the 
Prophet of God. He means that Mohammed is 
the last of the prophets and the greatest of all. 
Even those sects that believe in a later manifesta- 
tion maintain Mohammed in the highest rank, 
and maintain that he superseded his predecessors. 
And in popular Islam the glorification makes him 
superhuman. This claim carries with it the rejec- 
tion of Christ except as a superseded prophet. It 
is not a question of a theory of the Atonement or 
of the person of Christ, but of any atonement, 
any redemption, any incarnation that is in any 
way unique. The conflict of claims is immediate 
and cannot be stayed. A belief that is involved 
in the prophethood of Mohammed is that of 
revelation through human mediums and of sacred 
books that preserve the revelation. The common 
basis here is undeniable, but its value may easily 
be over-estimated. The Koran and the New 
Testament are so dissimilar in structure and 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 73 

purpose that it is useless to try to put the New 
Testament in the place in which the Mohammedan 
puts the Koran. It is not enough, however, to 
show that the Christian conception of revelation is 
different. It must be shown to be richer and 
higher, and such it is. 

It may be found in the end that the greatest 
praeparatio evangelica in Mohammedan countries 
is in the religious life outside the lines of the 
Koran, and in the various semi-Mohammedan sects. 
The yearning after a mystical union with the 
Divine, the longing to see the divine image in 
some human life, the desire for a way of forgive- 
ness opened by the self-sacrifice of divine love 
instead of the bare fiat of will, the vigils and 
prayers and aspirations of poets and philosophers, 
may be the most powerful Christward forces. It 
may be that many of these are echoes of Christian 
truth, for the witness to Christ has never been 
entirely wanting in the lands of Islam ; and in 
any case they are from Him, and He alone can 
guide these efforts to their goal and satisfy these 

Islam has one great lesson to teach us, the 
power of faith in a living God, not an abstraction, 
but One who rules the affairs of men. Another 
lesson is similar to this the power of the appeal 
to personal authority. Nothing is more marvellous 
in Islam than the impress of the personality of 

74 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the Prophet on men of alien races and successive 
ages. As already pointed out, this force of 
personality is a striking feature in the religious 
life of Islam. It is the principal means used in 
the propagation of new sects and doctrines. For 
example, Bahais make very little use of the 
printed page, or of preaching in the formal sense 
in which the personality of the preacher is 
obscured in the conventionality of the address. 
The chief reliance is on the personal efforts of 
the 'missionaries,' who make the greatest use of 
informal social gatherings. The lesson is emphasis 
on the personal claims of our Lord, and faith 
in the power of personal influence exercised 
persistently through the channels of social inter- 
course, benevolent work, school life, or business. 
The missionary message of Islam has been in a 
sense a gospel, the definite proclamation of the 
personal relation of God to the individual. This 
is implied in the requirement that each Moslem 
confess his faith, and in the ritual prayer. But 
Islam in its workings is legalistic, and in developed 
Islam the law is the great institution of religion. 
The Pauline theology of free grace, and the great 
apostle's glory in the Gospel, are the message 
for Mohammedan legalism now as for Judaistic 
legalism in the first century. Life among Moham- 
medans leads one to rejoice in the conception of 
Christianity as the Gospel, the message of personal 

Second Study W. A. Shedd 75 

and social salvation. One rejoices in the freedom 
of Christianity from identification with any specific 
form of social or political organization, and in the 
inapproachable ideal of manhood revealed by 
Christ and being gradually learned and realized 
by His followers. One reads with new joy the 
great words of the apostles : ' The law was given 
by Moses ; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,' 
and 'I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is 
the power of God unto salvation.' 


By Pastor GOTTFRIED SIMON, Dozent at the 
Theologische Schule, Bethel bei Bielefeld; 
formerly of the Rhenish Missionary Society, 



By Pastor GOTTFRIED SIMON l (Sumatra) 

THE observations and information recorded in this 
article are based entirely upon my personal ex- 
periences during the eleven years which I spent as 
a missionary amongst the Bataks in Sumatra. For 
the last century there has been amongst this tribe 
a constantly increasing movement towards the 
acceptance of Islam, a movement which is one of 
the final results of the six hundred years of Moslem 
propaganda in the Dutch Archipelago. The 
character of Islam as professed by the Bataks corre- 
sponds, generally speaking, to the type of Moham- 
medanism which has developed in the Dutch East 
Indies. It furnishes an instance also of the manner 
in which Islam has found entrance amongst peoples 
of lower culture. 

It has been my lot to come into contact with 
Mohammedans of very different kinds ; occasionally 
with races who had adopted Islam centuries ago, 

1 This article was written in German ; the translation into 
English has been revised by the author. 


8o Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

like the Malays and Javanese, but for the most 
part with tribes who had been converted only for 
a generation. I have also had opportunity to 
witness personally the course of Moslem propaganda 
amongst heathen tribes in various regions. The 
Christian congregations which I have served con- 
sisted either entirely of those who had formerly 
been Mohammedans, or of pagans who before 
their conversion to the Gospel had been hesitating 
between Islam and Christianity. The Rhenish 
Missionary Society, to which I belonged, has 
received into its congregations from 6000 to 8000 
converts from amongst Mohammedans. We may 
estimate the number of Christian converts from 
Mohammedanism in the Dutch East Indies at 
about 30,000.! 

It is the propaganda of Islam amongst pagan 
nations that shows most clearly how far Islam 
possesses vital religious energies, for we cannot 
fully explain the transition of pagans to Islam as 
the result of mere worldly motives, though social 
and political factors undoubtedly have not a little 
to do with the change. The pagan on his low 

1 For details regarding the statements of this article, 
compare my work, Islam und Christentum im Kampf um 
die Eroberung der animistischen Heidenwelt. 2 Auflage. 
Berlin, 1914. An English translation was published in 
1912 : The Progress and Arrest of Islam in Sumatra. 
London : Marshall Brothers. 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 8 1 

level of culture hopes in every way to be lifted by 
joining Islam. He is further impelled towards it 
by his anxiety lest he should be politically ex- 
tinguished through the irresistible preponderance 
of a foreign government. Islam appears to him to 
be a power on a level with the European colonial 
Government, and in it he hopes to gain a bulwark 
which may enable him to retain, if not his political, 
at least his religious independence. In earlier times 
the favour shown to Islam by the colonial Govern- 
ment had a tendency to induce pagans to adopt 
the religion of the crescent. At present the Dutch 
Government is not so much inclined as formerly to 
take the part of Islam, but notwithstanding this 
many government provisions still help to further 
the popular movement in its favour. The Malay 
language, generally written in Arabic script, is 
regarded as a second sacred language next to the 
Arabic ; it is in general use as the official language 
of administration and justice, and is the lingua 
franca of the Dutch East Indies. The native 
officials, writers, and soldiers, and the teachers in 
the secular government schools are Mohammedans, 
and often do more for the Mohammedan propa- 
ganda than is now acceptable to their European 

In the last resort, however, it is the religious 
substance of the Moslem doctrine which attracts 
the heathen, for the animist is of a thoroughly 

82 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

religious disposition and it is his religious inherit- 
ance which under present circumstances he finds to 
be seriously imperilled. These peoples, who were 
hitherto without a history or civilization worthy 
of the name, have perforce entered into the main 
stream of the world's history and culture and be- 
come exposed to the critical conditions which such 
entrance involves ; this transition has destroyed the 
foundations of the popular religion, which was 
too naiTow and circumscribed to meet the require- 
ments of modern conditions. Their reverence for 
ancestors, their fear of spirits and such respect as 
they had for the God in whom, though at a great 
distance, they believed, are all tottering. The old 
religious powers on whose incalculable favour the 
hopes of the pagan were founded have proved to 
be entirely inadequate. They have no power to 
delay the destruction of the freedom and the 
nationality of the people, who are therefore seeking 
a new religious foundation which will give them a 
better support under the conditions of the modern 

Unless the Bataks had believed that Islam would 
help them in this respect they would not have 
become Mohammedans. At the outset the pro- 
clamation of the unity of God in its absoluteness 
makes a strong impression upon the pagan. The 
old polytheism, and still more the old polydae- 
monism, tended to draw the soul of the pagan 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 83 

restlessly to and fro. He would often begin his 
prayer with a long repetition of the names of all 
the gods which he knew, but was none the less 
oppressed by anxiety lest he should have omitted 
some mighty divinity, and so he would pray to the 
gods whom he knew to pass on his desires to those 
whom he might have forgotten. Such perplexity 
and anxiety was done away with by prayer to one 
almighty Allah. The proof that the latter really 
possesses the power which the Moslem teacher 
ascribes to him is furnished by the economic pre- 
ponderance of the Moslem trader, the social 
superiority of the Moslem government official, and 
the intellectual superiority of the Moslem school- 
master. Most of all, the mind of the people is 
impressed by the belief that the Moslem magician 
entirely overshadows the heathen medicine man, 
because he has received his magical powers direct 
from Allah. The brutal insolence with which the 
proud pilgrim from Mecca spurns the superstiti- 
tious beliefs of the pagan, which hitherto have 
been considered as above question, convinces the 
pagan that firm faith in Allah confers an over- 
whelming power upon men. 

This one God is no human invention. The 
Moslem appeals to a book, the Koran, from which 
he quotes. True, the pagan does not understand 
its Arabic words, but he sees that the employment 
of these ' book words ' confers upon him who quotes 

84 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

them a remarkable assurance of manner. He easily 
comes to the conclusion that the possession of a 
divine revelation embodied in writing and thus 
unchangeable is an immense advantage, for hitherto 
he has known only oral tradition, which is subject 
to continual modifications, a few written magical 
formulas, and a mythology which is highly developed 
but constantly modified by the imaginative story- 
teller. He has no infallible document. Speaking 
generally, he attributes the wisdom of the fathers 
not to God but to the fathers themselves ; they got 
it from somewhere, perhaps actually from within 
themselves, but at all events not from God. In 
Islam, on the contrary, the one God speaks through 
the one book to the one race of man. Thus the 
pagan who has hitherto been groping among the 
many perplexities of life has found a firm standing 
ground. In the hour of death, too, the Moham- 
medan has a comfort which the heathen does not 
possess. The latter has a belief in an existence 
beyond the grave, but it is one which fills him 
with terror, whether he is destined to hover eter- 
nally in the air without rest as an evil spirit or to 
find an entrance into the kingdom of the dead. 
The one God, on the other hand, promises in his 
one book to every Moslem an unspeakable fulness 
of bliss, a sevenfold heaven and a paradise glorious 
beyond measure. The more the animist feels his 
position threatened by the inrush of modern culture, 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 8 5 

and the more clearly he becomes conscious of his 
social, political, intellectual, and moral impotence, 
with the more passionate eagerness does his soul 
embrace the idea of the promised paradise which 
will bring to him bliss, and to the white man 
damnation. Paradise attracts him by the very 
refinement of sensual gratification : eating and 
drinking, idleness and enjoyment beckon to the 
faithful. No lack of present earthly well-being 
fails to find its full compensation in the life to come. 
Nor does Islam neglect to provide for such souls 
as have a real desire for inward communion with 
God. There are wandering teachers who proclaim 
the virtue of the rosary and who give directions 
for mystical exercises. The aspirant who desires to 
follow their teachings is secluded for some weeks, 
day and night, in a mosque and allowed little food. 
He is promised that saints and prophets, and finally 
Allah himself, will appear in his soul, and when 
that takes place the devotee has reached the highest 
state of holiness. He has become confessedly the 
favourite of God and a certain heir of paradise. 

What influence has this Mohammedan piety on 
the character of the believer? The mystical 
exercises to which I have just referred give an 
unequivocal answer. The man who participates 
in them becomes proud and self-satisfied. His need 

86 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

is supplied. He requires no further teaching. He 
is guarded against injury when in the grave by the 
angel of the dead, he is no longer liable to judgment 
by the angel Gabriel ; for has he not seen God ? 
People will bring him presents as to a prince, and 
make a deeper obeisance before him than before 
the chief of a tribe. The more pious the Moslem 
is the more pronounced is his estimate of himself, 
and the greater his self-glorification. In his case 
the desire for teaching which the pagan manifested 
has disappeared. The man who has been initiated 
into the mystic secrets has obtained the hidden 
(batin) knowledge of God. With his superiors he 
is blase, cringingly polite ; towards unbelievers gruff 
and fanatical : the heathen is a filthy dog, the Chris- 
tian the fuel of hell. The ordinary believer imitates 
this revered saint as closely as possible. 

The result of this is that the common people 
become more and more dependent ; they entrust 
themselves absolutely to these holy men, believing 
that they will show them the way to God. Nor 
can the common man help himself in this matter. 
Were he to rely upon himself he could not possibly 
find his way in the labyrinth of the new religious 
ordinances. It would mean his learning a foreign 
language, Arabic, his reading a number of books, 
especially the Koran, studying Mohammedan law 
with its regulations for the smallest details of life 
and knowing a multitude of ceremonies and religious 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 87 

ordinances. Any one who is being instructed by a 
Moslem teacher, for example, regarding the daily 
prayers, will soon find out how difficult it is to 
attain such knowledge. For instance, it is im- 
portant for him to know, when he places his fingers 
upon his knees in prayer, how far they must extend 
over the limb beyond the knee. In such things 
there is only one man who can really guide him, 
the village priest, and when his knowledge is ex- 
hausted it is necessary to inquire of the next 
higher religious authority in the district. The 
Moslem has been delivered over, bound hand and 
foot, to his priesthood in matters that concern his 
welfare equally in this world and the next. The 
new Moslem religion thus makes its adherents the 
very slaves of men, and that to a higher degree 
than their old paganism, although the pagan is 
completely dependent upon his sorcerers. 

This relation we find takes the life out of personal 
piety and paralyses the natural religious forces of 
the people. The prayer formulas once learned 
mechanically in an unknown tongue promote mental 
sloth. The moral judgment is deprived of scope 
for action, on the one hand by a casuistic law, and 
on the other by a fatalism which denies all freedom 
of the will. The practical religious life is petrified 
into dead performances, which is what almsgiving, 
pilgrimage, fasting, reciting the Koran, the pre- 
scribed ritual ablutions, prostrations (throwing one- 

88 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

self on the ground) at prayer, so called, five times a 
day and the repetition of incomprehensible Arabic 
formulas really are. Thus the inward spiritual 
and religious nature becomes atrophied. The fact 
that the ordinary convert quietly endures such a 
condition of servility is explained by the fatalism 
which he brought over with him from paganism. 
Things are as they are ; it is God s will that some 
should be wise and have good fortune in this world, 
and that others should be robbed and cheated by 
them. He has fixed the life destiny of each man 
once for all and nothing can alter it; one must 
accept it like everything else. The belief is not in 
a fate separate from God, but in a God who is 
Himself an arbitrary and incomprehensible fate 
against which it is futile to rebel. 


I have noticed discontent with the teaching of 
Islam only amongst those Moslems who had already 
come into contact with Christianity. I have, 
however, known of Malay pilgrims who, on return- 
ing from Mecca to the coast districts, have cast 
away their turbans and given strong utterance to 
their indignation at the impositions which had been 
practised on them in Mecca. Again, the harsh- 
ness of Mohammedan priests in their disregard of 
traditional customs has sometimes elicited passing 
displeasure. For instance, when the village priest 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 89 

at my mission station, after having been married 
for several years, divorced his wife without returning 
to her a share of the marriage portion, the people 
were indignant. And when the priest raised the 
scale of offerings and threatened that if the people 
did not meet his demands he would not bury them, 
they complained, though without result. In places 
where the higher priesthood is in full agreement 
with the indigenous chiefs, the hand of the rulers 
lies heavy upon the helpless people and their minds 
are full of discontent, but they are far too slack to 
attempt any resistance. In some cases the covetous- 
ness of their teachers is contrasted by Moslems with 
the unselfish love of faithful missionaries and their 
native assistants. Sometimes, too, though seldom, 
we meet men who are uneasy as to whether their 
good works will really obtain entrance for them 
into paradise ; but the Mohammedan priest himself 
declares that in this life it is impossible to attain 
complete assurance that God will receive a man 
into heaven. If He is pleased to do so He will, 
but if not there is no help for it. The Moslem is so 
accustomed to this uncertainty that it hardly occurs 
to him to consider whether there might not be 
another alternative. 


From what I have said we see that a belief in 
the existence of one God and a hope of delights in 

90 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the world to come awaken religious impulses in the 
Mohammedan Malay. We cannot say that they 
furnish him with vital energies ; for the Moslem 
belief in God does not necessarily involve the desire 
for communion with Him or for willing obedience 
to Him, but rather a helpless submission to the 
almighty will which dominates everything, and 
against which man is powerless. The hope of 
Islam in a world to come occupies the fancy and 
influences the desires, but not the moral will. The 
moral character and conduct of the man is a matter 
of indifference, the important thing is that he 
should be able to show as great an amount as 
possible of meritorious work in the performance 
of duties and ceremonies. The commonest daily 
religious performance is that of the fivefold prayer, 
but this does not satisfy the longing of the soul for 
God, because it is regarded simply as work delivered 
in payment of His due. The Moslem desires to 
offer to God the reverence due to Him, but to 
establish a personal relationship between himself 
and God is far from his thoughts. 

Were we to examine the remaining phenomena of 
religious life in Islam on the same lines, we should 
find everywhere that personal religious life is set 
aside in favour of ceremonies, that duty is performed 
mechanically, simply because it must be done, that 
fasts are observed simply because every one fasts. 
No one dares to break a fast, for who would expose 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 9 1 

himself alone to the curse of the teachers and 
perhaps even of God Himself? There may indeed 
be some who earnestly desire to stand right with 
God, and some there are who undertake the pilgrim- 
age to Mecca from this motive. Others are driven 
to do so by an evil conscience ; after a dissolute life 
they desire to adjust their final balance of account 
with God ; but the subsidiary motives which operate 
in the case of the ten thousand annual pilgrims from 
the Dutch Archipelago are to a very small extent of 
a religious nature. The pilgrim desires to have an 
opportunity of seeing the world and later on to 
attain a respected position in his own country as a 
religious teacher, and this he can only acquire by 
going to Mecca. Indeed reports of the dissolute 
life which he may lead in Mecca in the companionship 
of beautiful women allure many a hot-blooded young 
man of the higher classes to undertake the pilgrim- 
age. The pilgrimage then really ceases to be a 
penitential journey and becomes rather the holiday 
excursion of a pampered man of the world. The 
general reverence in which the Koran is held does 
not result from its fruitful influence upon the 
spiritual life of the Moslem community. The con- 
tents of the book matter but little, seeing that they 
are so slightly known. Its religious value is held 
to consist in the fact that the believer possesses a 
holy volume, which he takes in his hand when he 
has to swear an oath, to which he pays an idolatrous 

92 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

veneration and from which he may be able to chant 
a few passages in order to gain religious merit. 

The most important religious possession in the 
eyes of the brown race is the divine gift of 
'wisdom' (ilmu\ as they call the Arabian magic. 
God is regarded as the disposer of innumerable 
magic formulas, a portion of which He bestows upon 
His elect prophets and saints, and such bestowal is 
a most especial proof of His favour, seeing that 
thereby God in effect delivers Himself into the hands 
of the believer. The man who is able to use the 
right magic formula at the right time and in the 
right place has power over God. As against the 
Moslem magic, the Almighty Himself is powerless, 
He cannot even prevent a sinner who is ripe for 
hell being magically transported into paradise by a 
clever magician, and hence they say that God can 
only be resisted through God. Accordingly, what 
the pagan has lost in the way of magic by throwing 
over his old religion is amply restored to him by 
Islam. The talismans and amulets engraved with 
divine names, Koranic verses, and fragments of the 
ritual prayers have immeasurably enriched his old 
pagan inventory of magical properties. 

The promises which the Moslem teacher makes to 
the pagan before his conversion are too high-flown 
not to produce disappointment in the mind of the 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 93 

new disciple later on, but when the convert perceives 
that his new religion does not give him what he 
expected from it he does not blame his religion, but 
his own inadequate religious knowledge and his sloth. 
If only, he says to himself, I could read Arabic like 
the village priest, had I only visited Mecca, had I 
regularly during the past year paid all my dues and 
always said the daily prayers, had I been able to 
avoid all mistakes in my ceremonial purifications, 
how different things would be with my religious life. 
If, notwithstanding this humility, discontent 
makes its appearance among believers, their priest 
knows how to make adroit use of such feelings in 
order to urge his congregation to greater perform- 
ances. He will threaten them with the impending 
judgment of God, which will chastise them for 
their negligence in the performance of their Moslem 
duties. He announces the end of the world; only 
some special performance can avert the wrath of 
God which the saint initiated in the counsels of God 
distinctly perceives to be imminent. Our Bataks 
are quick-witted enough to feel in their intercourse 
with the more educated Christians their ignorance 
in matters relating to their own religion, but they 
comfort themselves with the thought that after all 
there are plenty of teachers who can tell them about 
it. If they only had the same hidden knowledge 
they too would be able to reply to the criticisms 
of Christians. 

94 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

From what has been said it will be easily 
understood that the Moslem is seldom driven to 
acceptance of the Gospel by discontent with his 
present religion. Nevertheless, continuous contact 
of Mohammedans with the Gospel does awaken in 
some of them a suspicion that it offers them 
something which Islam does not possess. What 
this is one cannot of course express in a formula. 

I have often noticed that Mohammedans took 
delight in the biblical stories, both of the Old and 
New Testaments. The mere fact that these stories 
were read to them in their mother tongue appealed 
to them. It was different from anything that they 
had known before. True, fantastic Moslem stories 
are told amongst the people now and again, and 
they like to listen to them, but they treat them as 
belonging to the same class as the heathen fairy 
tales and fables which have no claim to truthfulness. 
The Mohammedan is impressed by the fact that God 
prepared His people Israel for many centuries by 
prophets who foretold the mission of Jesus, and by 
His genealogy contained in Scripture. The notable 
Mohammedan families amongst the Bataks plume 
themselves not a little upon their ancestry. 

The Bataks are sympathetically impressed by 
the miracles of our Lord. No doubt they regard 
miracles as the usual sign of a religious leader, 
but the miraculous works of Jesus are of a different 
type from the wonders and magical tricks which are 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 95 

related about the dead or living saints of Islam. 
Jesus, they see, did miracles only when He was able 
thereby to help others. When did He ever, as do 
all the sorcerers of black magic, use His miraculous 
gifts for His own enrichment ? 

The manner in which our Lord sets forth His 
teachings in epigrams and parables is pleasing to 
the Batak, whose popular morality is fond of pro- 
verbs and imagery. Jesus was poor, unlike the 
magicians who without exception use their wonder- 
working powers for their own benefit, while He went 
from place to place healing and helping others. 
This feature in our Lord's character attracts them, 
for they feel their own extreme poverty, especially 
in contrast to the well-to-do Europeans. Their 
compassion is aroused at the treatment of our 
Saviour by His own people. Surely, they feel, He 
did not deserve this. The story of the crucifixion 
touches them. They well understand, from the 
experiences of 'heir own life, how the covetous 
priests by their I. *rigues brought death upon Him, 
for every one of them has suffered, in the case of 
himself or others, injustice of some kind. The 
Batak takes little interest at first in the vicarious 
and redemptive aspect of the death of Christ, but 
he is much impressed with our Lord's power over 
evil spirits and over death, and with His prophecy 
of His return as a mighty judge. They think that 
such a leader and mediator is not unacceptable, but 

96 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

that Mohammedans have surely a much better 
mediator in the person of their Prophet. 

The Bataks appreciate the loving invitations of 
Christ, as represented in the parables of the Good 
Shepherd and the Prodigal Son. They think it 
decidedly convenient to get rid of sin and its con- 
sequences so easily. They may shake their heads 
at the story of the resurrection as being improbable, 
but it seems to them by no means impossible. As 
long as they do not realize that a belief in Jesus 
must oust faith in Mohammed they have no objec- 
tion to allowing that Jesus is the Son of God, seeing 
that all men are children of God, as even pagans 
know, for has not God created them and placed 
them in the world ? They are ready to allow that 
the Jesus of the Gospel is the same as the 'Isa of 
whom the Mohammedan teachers also know some- 
thing. We shall see afterwards at what point their 
rejection comes in. 

Generally speaking, one may say that the mission- 
ary's greatest difficulty is to get the ear of Moslems 
at all when he speaks of the Gospel. Only those are 
prepared to listen on whom the conduct of Christians 
has already made an impression. They know that 
the missionaries are always anxious to promote the 
bodily welfare of all men, whether Malays, Chinese, 
or Bataks. This is sufficiently proved by the daily 
medical ministrations in the forty main stations and 
440 out-stations, and by the orphanage and the 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 97 

two leper asylums, in one of which more than 300 
lepers are cared for. The Mohammedans know 
perfectly well that this labour of love on the part of 
missionaries and doctors as also of native helpers 
is carried on entirely without self interest, even 
although crafty Mecca pilgrims would persuade the 
people that the missionaries will demand large sums 
of money on the recovery of their patients, or that 
they receive a special reward in coin for every 
patient. Decades of long sustained labour have 
convinced the people of the untenability of such 
calumnies. Some priests will tell the people that 
the white man is merely a slave of Allah and has 
been commissioned by Him to deliver Mohammedans 
from sickness and suffering. God, in fact, has 
punished the white men by putting upon them 
the task of healing the sick, whereas the Moslem 
priesthood would never think of defiling themselves 
by such servile ministrations. But this again does 
not readily find acceptance. On the contrary it is 
a common thing in wide circles for the people to 
reply to the charges of the priests that the Chris- 
tians after all have a real religion. 

The life and character of many Christians, in- 
cluding some of our native helpers and leaders, is 
not all that it might be, but the Mohammedan 
nevertheless has to confess that their behaviour is 
a marked advance upon the arrogant and overbearing 
conduct of the Islamic priesthood. Mohammedans 

98 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

recognize that the serious efforts of our village 
elders to settle quarrels, especially between young 
married people, are praiseworthy. Polygamy has 
never become an institution amongst the pagan 
Bataks ; it is regarded as a cause of strife and the 
privilege of the rich. The monogamous marriage 
of Christians, the high esteem in which women are 
held, the peacefulness of happy marriages which 
they see in the dwellings of the missionaries and 
their helpers, are all in agreement with Batak 
ideas. Divorce is rendered difficult by their tribal 
laws, and although the chiefs are ready to take 
advantage of it the popular conscience disapproves 
of it and the strict rule of monogamous marriage 
in the Christian Church is not a little impressive 
to the Moslem. He is also attracted by the 
Christian marriage rite, clearly setting forth as it 
does by word and ceremony the indissolubility of 
the marriage bond, in the plighting of troth between 
bride and bridegroom, the joining of their hands, 
the marriage exhortation and the divine benediction. 
It often enough happens that the spectacle of a 
Christian marriage gives the first impulse to the 
conversion of a Moslem. We may say that Christian 
worship in general, with hymn-singing by young 
people, prayers in the vernacular, preaching that 
can be understood by all, the fatherly attitude of 
the clergy in their exhortation and pastoral minis- 
trations which breathe the spirit of loving service, 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 99 

all go to impress Moslems favourably. When one 
of them has been to a Christian service, if only a 
funeral, he will not easily venture to say that the 
Christians have no religion. Many among our 
Christians, though, alas ! not all, preserve their 
faith through sickness and in the face of death. 
They have renounced all magic and witchcraft and 
committed their bodies and souls with quiet trust 
into the hands of God. Simply and without false 
shame they confess the assurance of forgiveness of 
their sins through the cross of Christ. Thus they 
bear eloquent witness to the power of the Saviour 
among the Mohammedan relatives whom popular 
custom brings to the bed of sickness and death. 

Value is attached to the educative influence of 
Christian missions. Obedience to parents is regarded 
even amongst pagans as a virtue, but one which 
they fail to call forth in their children, and Islam 
has done nothing to amend this. Hence the 
Christian school which seriously inculcates the fifth 
commandment attracts Mohammedans. It is true 
that the percentage of children attending Christian 
schools who actually go over to Christianity is 
very small, but the people, hungry as they are for 
education, regard it as no small benefit that all 
children without any religious distinction are re- 
ceived as pupils. Finally, Mohammedans themselves, 
when occasion serves, will confess that the Christian 
school equips the child better for life and has a 

ioo Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

more favourable moral influence upon him than 
Moslem instruction in the Koran, through which 
the children learn with difficulty a few fragments 
of Arabic and possibly the Arabic alphabet. They 
allow also that the young people are far better 
cared for by the Christian workers than by Moslem 
teachers, the majority of whom give teaching in 
magic along with their school work. Dabbling in 
magic leads the youths to immorality, and makes 
them impudent to young girls and discourteous to 
elders ; for in reliance upon the magic powers which 
they believe themselves to have attained they fear 
nothing are they not charmed against thrusts and 
cuts, and even against the bullets of European 
soldiers, and are they not, by reason of their magic, 
superior to the village elders in wisdom and elo- 
quence? It is an open secret that it is precisely 
the most famous of the Mohammedan teachers who 
exert the most deleterious influence on youth. 

The Christian Church stands for unity in the 
Batak country. In all churches of the mission 
the same Gospel is read; there are no differences 
in doctrine. The Church has a stable organization. 
The effective organization of the Christian Church 
is chiefly manifested in its discipline; offences 
against Christian morality are followed by the 
same penalties whether in north or south. It is 
the Church, and not the missionary, which pro- 
nounces judgment, and it does not hesitate, if 

*' ' *> i* '!';' :' : A 
Third Study Gottfr e'd' Simon' IDi 

need be, to excommunicate members of high social 
position. Clear-sighted and resolute action of this 
kind makes a powerful impression on a people 
lacking in strength of will. 


It may seem strange that the same points in the 
Christian life and doctrine which attract the 
Mohammedan also call forth his opposition. For 
instance the discipline of the Christian Church 
inspires him with respect, but when he considers 
the matter quietly the fear arises that this same 
discipline may prove unpleasant to him and limit 
his personal freedom. To be bound to one wife 
throughout life and under all circumstances, and 
to have no possibility of taking another in addition, 
is to many a disagreeable limitation. In other words, 
the lofty demands of Christian morality alarm 
Moslems. They are ready to admire them, but 
only so long as admiration has not to be exchanged 
for allegiance. The silencing power of the Word of 
God gives it a grip upon a man's conscience ; that 
is not always pleasant. The possibility of inward 
communion with God which is afforded by Christian 
prayer places a man in the presence of God and 
lays upon him the obligation of seeking communion 
with God, and this is a hindrance to sinful pleasure. 
The ritual prayers of Islam are indeed difficult to 
learn, on account of their complicated ceremonial, 

io? Vital Forcts of Christianity and Islam 

but they have the advantage over Christian prayers 
in not disquieting the conscience. 

In fine the chief offence arises from the fact that 
the conscience is touched by Christian teaching. 
This is true also of the doctrine of the person 
of Christ. At first the outsider regards the doctrine 
of the Trinity as a ridiculous and foolish pro- 
position, and the Mohammedan teachers do their 
best to represent it to their disciples as absolutely 
senseless. But this is not where the real difficulty 
lies. The Batak is extremely fond of a hair-splitting 
discussion of a difficult question. He would simply 
delight in a subtle disputation about the Trinity 
and about the divine Sonship of our Lord, and such 
conversations do sometimes have an enlightening 
effect. Thoughtful hearers may see that the 
doctrine of the Trinity is by no means the un- 
thinkable proposition that they imagine. But that 
does not mean that the real stumbling-block has 
been removed. The same may be said of the 
divine Sonship of our Lord. The Mohammedan 
is fond of attacking it with cheap ridicule. How 
can God have a son? Do you suppose that He 
has a wife ? But the mocker is often disarmed by 
a simple question. Do you believe that God can 
do whatever He pleases? Can He then not have 
a son without taking a wife? To overcome an 
objection of this kind is not difficult, but as soon 
as the Mohammedan realizes that this Jesus has 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 103 

a unique relation to God, that He can share His 
place with no other, whether spirits, whom He 
has the power to drive out, or prophets, who do 
not know God as He does, the more pronounced 
does his opposition become. He recognizes that 
the worship of Christ excludes the worship of 
Mohammed. Either Mohammed is the mediator, 
or Christ: he cannot hold to both. But who 
would dare to give up Mohammed ? 

The acceptance of Christ means a breach with 
every form of animism ; the wearing of amulets is 
a sin for him who believes in the power of Jesus. 
All the secret magical implements and powers of 
the priests are forbidden to the disciple of Christ. 
There are no such things as magical methods of 
becoming rich. Beautiful as the story of the 
Prodigal Son may be, it has the bitter moral that 
any one returning to the Father's house must con- 
form to the way of that house. 

We have seen that the cross of Jesus calls forth 
the sympathy of hearers. Occasionally the common 
Mohammedan objection is made to it that cruci- 
fixion was a fate unworthy of a holy prophet, but 
generally speaking the Cross is rejected because the 
Mohammedan cannot understand that anything of 
the kind should be a necessary condition of the 
forgiveness of sins. 

The preaching of the missionary ought neither to 
smooth away the angles and the edges of the Gospel, 

IO4 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

nor to emphasize unnecessarily at the beginning the 
elements which most repel the hearer. We have to 
ask, then, whether there are points of Christian 
doctrine which may be kept back in order to avoid 
unnecessary offence. In answer to this we must 
remember that it is impossible in setting forth 
Christianity to confine ourselves to a certain limited 
area of its doctrine. We might perhaps do so in 
public teaching, in which the preacher can choose 
his own ground, but as soon as we come to anything 
like a discussion, the opponent simply forces us to 
deal with doctrines the exposition of which we 
would prefer to postpone. In the Moslem we have 
an opponent who possesses a knowledge, however 
incorrect, of Christianity. Our task therefore is 
not to carry to the Moslem as we would to the 
heathen an entirely unknown doctrine as something 
completely new, but rather to remove mountains 
of prejudice and to correct a multitude of miscon- 
ceptions as to our Christian doctrine. The Moham- 
medan priests in the Dutch East Indies who have 
been trained in Mecca have been regularly taught to 
dispute with Christians, and even the least educated 
village priest has some idea of how to do this. The 
more thoroughly, however, we answer our opponent, 
the less shall we be able to avoid those doctrines 
which cause special offence, for every part of the 
Christian teaching, if thoroughly explained, stands 
in definite contrast to that of Islam, and our inter- 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 105 

locators will soon compel us to make the antithesis 
quite clear. For instance, we are asked on what we 
base our certainty of entering into paradise, or of 
the forgiveness of sins. In answer we point to 
Jesus and His cross, and say that we believe in 
redemption through His blood, and justification 
through His grace. We thereby exclude all merit 
on the part of man, and the Moslem forthwith 
realizes that we thus stigmatize all his works of 
merit, his religious observances, his fasting, his 
pilgrimage, and so forth, as entirely without value 
as the basis of salvation. But the man who has 
all his life set his hope upon such meritorious 
works of course feels himself injured when he sees 
how lightly we esteem what appears to him most 
precious. Again, we are often driven to explain 
the depth of the biblical idea of sin, and to show 
that even the secret desire of the heart to take the 
property or the wife of one's neighbour, or even a 
lack of love to one's neighbour, is sinful. In contrast 
with this the Moslem naturally feels how superficial is 
his conception of sin. To him sin is the neglect of 
a clause in the Islamic civil law of marriage, or the 
defective performance of some small ritual action. 
Again, we are asked about the teaching of the Bible, 
and, first and foremost, the inquirer wants to know 
what it says about Mohammed and the Koran. He 
very soon has to be told that the Bible contains the 
final and binding revelation of God to mankind, 

io6 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

and accordingly he realizes that to the Christian 
Mohammed's claim is void and his book a mere 
human production. I need hardly say that it is 
unnecessary to expose in a controversial way the 
moral weaknesses of Mohammed's life, or the con- 
tradictions of the Koran, but if I endeavour, with- 
out making comparisons, to set forth in itself the 
glory of Christ and the fulness of biblical teaching, 
the sensitive Moslem soon finds out that his Prophet 
and his holy book will not endure comparison with 
this Prophet and this Book of books, and this too 
will cause offence. It is not necessary that I should 
explicitly condemn the sensual descriptions of the 
joys of paradise. I have only to explain the 
spiritual nature of the Christian hope after death, 
and the fulness of joy in perfect communion with 
Christ and the vision of God, to make the Moslem 
feel that for me at least the joys of his paradise 
are worthless, and it irritates him that his glowing 
expectations have no attraction for me. 


We have seen that it is difficult to present 
Christian teaching to the Mohammedan without 
offending him, but by that I do not mean to say 
that there are no points of contact in Islam itself 
for the proclamation of the Gospel. For instance, 
if we take the omnipotence of God we shall find 
that every ascription of praise to the divine good- 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 107 

ness which sustains us and the entire creation meets 
with lively agreement on the part of the Moslem, 
and in speaking of it we may even adopt his 
phraseology to a certain extent. Indeed this fact 
is of the greatest importance for the evangelizing 
of Moslems, for it is on this common ground that 
the missionary finds it possible to get a hearing at 
all, since, generally speaking, the Moslem regards 
the Christian as a man without religion. The 
attitude of the many unbelieving Europeans among 
the colonists, who are absorbed in their work, often 
with the desire to make their fortune quickly, 
has hitherto strengthened the notion in his mind 
that the white man has no appreciation of things 
religious. But when I am able to speak of God 
in the phraseology of the Moslem he perceives 
that I at any rate have a desire for the honour 
of God, a hope of paradise, a faith in prophets 
and in sacred scriptures, and an acceptance of the 
duty of submission to God, that I honour Him 
with worship, and repudiate such sins as theft, 
falsehood, murder, and adultery no less decidedly 
than the Moslem does. We can also go a step 
further than this, by pointing out that the Koran 
and the Bible agree in certain doctrines. When 
a mocking opponent utters obscene blasphemies 
against the virgin birth of Christ one can point out 
to him that the Koran also teaches the birth of Jesus 
Christ without a father, and he has to confess with 

1 08 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

confusion that his religion forbids him to speak 
offensively about the history of the birth of Christ. 
We may often connect what we have to say with 
the mention common to both books of Adam as 
the first of the human race, of Abraham, Joseph, 
Solomon and other Old Testament characters. The 
knowledge of the Koran, however, amongst the 
Mohammedan priests who are generally ignorant of 
Arabic is too imperfect for us to effect much with 
arguments taken from that book. It is important 
to make diligent use of such points of contact 
because by that means alone can we gain the 
Moslem's confidence. It is, however, quite another 
question whether we are justified in employing a 
doctrine contained in the Koran as the basis for 
an extended discussion. Passages about Satan and 
the angels are the simplest to handle. They are 
prominent neither among the Moslems of Sumatra 
nor in Christianity. But even on these minor 
points the difference between us is patent, for when- 
ever we seek to build upon our common foundation 
we must first destroy a great part of it. We 
must protest against the worship of angels which is 
especially carried on by Moslem sorcerers, whereas 
this is the very thing which is important for the 
Moslem. We cannot assign the role to the angel 
Gabriel assigned to him by Moslem theology 
at the end of the world, which is, to hold the 
scales: he decides whether the weight of good 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 1 09 

works is adequate, he is actually lord at the 

If we begin to develop the teaching to be drawn 
from mercy as a divine attribute we are at once 
met with a difficulty. We have to protest against 
the idea that God's goodness is a matter of mood, 
and that it is a matter of complete indifference to 
Him whether He sends a man to heaven or hell. 
We must teach that we are not slaves of God, 
with no power of self-determination, but rather 
His beloved children. However useful, therefore, 
we find the acknowledgment and praise of God's 
mercy as a means of gaining a hearing, it fails 
us as a common ground when we begin to employ 
it as a starting-point for the doctrines of God's 
attributes in detail. In order to guard against 
gross misunderstanding we are compelled to attack 
the Moslem conception of the divine mercy. 
Further, the fact that we reverence the 'Isa of 
Islam whom we call Jesus, is, to begin with, a 
useful point of contact, but when we come to 
teach about His life and work we can only do 
so in the light of the Cross. The apocryphal 
legend about the Jew on whom 'Isa is said to 
have conferred His own image so that he might 
be crucified in His stead, to say nothing of other 
mythical stories, is such a total misapprehension 
of the picture of Jesus that we really have first 
to obliterate the features of 'Isa from the heart 

1 1 o Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

of the Moslem before we can print upon it the 
true lineaments of our Jesus. The hope of the 
Mahdl, or as they say in the Dutch East Indies, 
the expectation that ' the righteous and white 
prince ' will appear before the end of all things, can 
scarcely serve to awaken an understanding of the 
second advent of Jesus. For at His return 'Isa is 
to surrender His kingdom in a final conflict to 
Mohammed and then Himself turn Mohammedan. 
The Moslem's mystical exercises certainly testify to 
his search after communion with God. They do 
not, however, serve to awaken his understanding for 
the Christ within us. For such mystical exercises con- 
jure God into man, to absorb man in the deity. The 
more passive a man is in the mystical art the better. 
Whereas the Christ within us awakens for the first 
time in men the living power to work in His name. 

The difficulty is perhaps greatest in the matter 
of eschatology. In dealing with this doctrine we 
obviously have to depopulate the sensually furnished 
paradise of the Moslem in order to make room 
for the Christian hope of eternal life in its spiritual 
outlines. We must be ready to take away from 
the Moslem his houris, the dishes wide as the 
circle of the earth and full of fragrant viands, 
the perfumes and luxurious couches, the sparkling 
brooks, and trees whose fruits fall into his mouth : 
in fact little is left to represent the common belief 
but the name ' paradise ' : the contents are totally 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 1 1 1 

different. We behold the Lamb slain, the tree of 
life, the redeemed in white robes, and look forward 
to the marriage supper to which we shall sit down 
with the Lord. But these are of course sensible 
figures for supersensible experience. What is essen- 
tial in such imagery is not the sensible figure but 
the supersensible Christ and our supersensible com- 
munion with Him. An ideal hitherto sensible is 
therefore not merged in some new sensible goal, 
but rather the Christian representation foregoes any 
attempt to depict the details of the Last Day. It 
definitely refuses to allow eschatological experience 
to be sensibly apprehended and thereby to become 
alluring ; rather the earthly expression is made the 
vehicle of the expectation of intangible, supramun- 
dane reality. The fact that Christian eschatology 
lays no weight on complete representation of the 
life to come saves it from the temptation to indulge 
in grotesque and fantastic descriptions, and shows 
that the earthly imagery is but a picture of the 
supernatural reality. It has no intention of satis- 
fying impertinent curiosity or of alluring by 
means of sensual desire. The allurement is only 
for the spiritual side of man and the satisfaction 
is for the Christian's home-sickness. We can see 
what a wide difference there is between the 
eschatological tendency of the two religions, and 
the further we enter into the essential meaning 
of either the more does this divergence increase. 

H2 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

The same thing might be proved with regard 
to other religious conceptions such as sin, judgment, 
hell, and so forth. We should everywhere encounter 
the same difficulties. The Moslem associates with 
the words in question entirely different ideas from 
those of the Christian. It is therefore impossible 
simply to employ the religious vocabulary of Islam 
as the foundation of our missionary presentation 
of the Gospel. In the case of these conceptions 
also, what on first comparison seems to be a common 
foundation disappears when we scrutinize it more 
closely. If, therefore, we do not wish that the 
old errors in the mind of the Moslem should be 
merely adorned with Christian names and so give 
rise to an entirely unbiblical syncretism, we must 
not hesitate to overthrow without remorse these 
supposed common foundations, and to cast aside 
their fragments. Only then can a new building 
be erected on the new foundation. We may, in 
fact, accept it as a general law that congruity 
between Christianity and Islam is apparent only 
at ^first sight. The further investigation proceeds, 
the deeper does the gulf between the two become. 
No doubt those who have confined themselves in 
their discussions with Mohammedans to mere 
skirmishing will have much to say of the breadth 
of the common foundation. Those who have led 
up the main army of the vital forces of the Gospel 
against the Islamic enemy become painfully con- 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 113 

scious how the supposed common ground gives 
way under their feet. It is as true of converts from 
Islam in this connexion as it was of the Pharisees : 
they must die with Christ ; and because it is always 
a bitter thing to die, conversions from Islam are 
both difficult and rare. 


The present controversy of Christianity with the 
Moslem faith undoubtedly translates many things 
in the New Testament from the dim light of the 
past into the bright noonday of the present. Many 
points of contact exist between the Phariseeism of 
the Palestinian Jew at the time of Christ and Islam 
of the present age. In both cases we see the same 
anxious observance of the ceremonial laws of food ; 
Mohammedan teachers in Sumatra publish popular 
tracts on the question as to which tropical animals 
are clean and which are unclean. In both cases we 
observe the opinion that that which enters into the 
mouth defiles the man, while evil thoughts, especially 
hatred towards a non-Moslem, the sin of witchcraft 
and hypocritical flattery of powerful unbelievers 
are allowed to have free course. In both cases 
we notice the ostentatious praying at the corners 
of the street so as to be seen of men, in both 
contempt towards those who are without, because 
they do not belong to the elect people of God, in 
both the sensuous expectations as to resurrection, 

1 14 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

which last, as we know, differentiated the Palestinian 
Pharisee from the Hellenistic Jew. A man on 
undertaking a pilgrimage to Mecca often leaves 
his nearest relatives to suffer for lack of his help 
in order that he may become a pilgrim, just as 
did the Jew who, according to our Lord's saying, 
let his parents suffer for the sake of Corban. The 
Moslem trader imagines himself to be religious 
when, like the Jew of the time of our Lord, he 
swears by all kinds of objects. As the Jew de- 
manded signs and wonders from our Lord as a 
proof of His mission so precisely does the Moslem 
of the present day reproach the missionary because 
he, unlike the Moslem teacher, evinces no command 
of divine powers of magic. The struggle of the 
apostle Paul to maintain the free grace of God 
and his energetic repudiation of all justification 
by works again become intelligible to us in the 
conflict with Islam. The reproach of the Cross, 
too, is keenly felt by the Moslem, to whom it is 
inconceivable that the chosen Prophet should have 
suffered a shameful execution. The evangelical 
freedom of St. Paul has by some been misconstrued 
as a lack of piety; the Moslem levels the same 
reproach at us, and when he sees that the Christian 
convert no longer observes the ritual prayers and 
purifications he regards him as an unbeliever. 

Some theologians of our time have expressed 
surprise at the record of the apostolic decree 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 1 1 5 

given in Acts xv, because it seems to have been 
so soon superseded, but our experience in missions 
to Moslems renders this quite intelligible. One of 
our most difficult problems is the linking together 
of converts from Islam and paganism into one 
inwardly and outwardly united communion, and 
in order to compass this we have to use provisional 
compromises regarding Christian customs as to food 
and the like which afterwards may be superseded. 
If the two parties are to live together in the unity 
of the Church, each must be prepared to sacrifice 
something of its legitimate freedom. Moreover, 
such provisional ordinances require a special degree 
of wisdom which is given to us only by the Holy 
Spirit, and we cannot be surprised that the members 
of the apostolic council in a similar situation should 
appeal in their circular very specially to His guidance. 
Such characters as Simon the magician, who 
claim to be possessed of a special divine power 
and for this reason are idolized by the people, 
appear constantly amongst Indonesian Moslems 
of to-day. The idea of Simon and the other 
magicians that the Holy Spirit could be bought 
for money corresponds entirely with the practice 
of Moslem magicians, who believe themselves to 
be furnished with mystical power. We have here 
mysticism degenerating into magic. In strong 
contrast with such, the Christian mysticism of 
St. Paul shines out brightly. Such mysticism 

1 1 6 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

speaks indeed of the Christ within us. Its exponent 
says in so many words, 'I live, yet not I.' But 
this mysticism knows no mechanical exercises, no 
passive contemplation which can produce spiritual 
exaltation to order. The boundary between the 
person of Christ and the human personality 
indwelt by Him is in no way obliterated, but the 
mystical communion between them remains a true 
communion, that is it consists of a vital connexion 
between two personalities each of which maintains 
its separate existence and activity. Both God and 
man remain each what they are : there can be no 
such thing as the absorption of the human into 
the divine. 

The teaching of Scripture regarding miracles 
is also illuminated by comparison with Islam. 
Miracles are among the proofs of a divine mission 
and the disciples of the Moslem magicians lay 
claim to miraculous gifts as did the sons of 
the Pharisees. When therefore St. Paul regards 
conviction of the conscience by the Gospel as the 
essential proof of the truth of Christianity this 
view stands in sharp contrast with the notion 
of the Moslem world. Mohammedanism still 
regards the miracle as primarily a proof of divine 
favour, and by its doctrine of magical wonders 
actually degrades the conception of divine freedom. 
The Deity becomes subservient to a human being 
who is thoroughly practised in magic, however he 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 1 1 7 

may follow his own selfish ends, whereas our 
Saviour by His miracles relieves the needs of men. 
By them He does not coerce God, but, on the 
contrary, the miracles are counted as answers to 
His prayers. Moreover, in Islam the miraculous 
effect is bound up with the power of the magic 
formula. The really effective element is the magic 
word and the magic ceremony, whereas in the 
New Testament the miracle ever stands as a free 
activity of the living God. To the disciple of 
Jesus, no less than to Himself, does the principle 
apply that the proof of true discipleship is not 
the miracle but the doing of the Father's will. 
He is not to rejoice in the possession of miraculous 
gifts but in the certainty that his name is written 
in heaven. 

The convert from Islam who has escaped from 
religious servitude gives us an insight into the 
true nature of Christian freedom. He greets with 
joy evangelical freedom from the law. No longer 
is he cramped and intimidated by a casuistic law- 
book with an endless series of individual commands. 
The broad principles of his free Christian life 
are now based on the love of Christ, responsibility 
to the supreme Judge, fear of the living God, and 
the guidance of His Spirit. The disciple of Christ 
who is led by the Spirit has been released from 
the guidance of Islamic divines; he is himself 
taught of God. 

1 1 8 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

The contrast between the Christian and the 
Moslem hope of a life to come casts light, as we 
saw above, upon New Testament eschatology. 
The Christian message of a future life may appear 
simple and even bald to the Moslem whose soul 
has been filled with the fantastic and sensuous 
notions of paradise presented by his faith. In the 
same way the Jew, whose mind was filled with 
eschatological hopes such as those depicted in 
the Jewish apocalypses of the time of Jesus, must 
have felt the apparent poverty and reserve of the 
teaching which Jesus and His apostles gave of 
the life to come. There are few indications in 
the New Testament regarding the intermediate 
condition of the soul of which Moslem divines 
have so much to tell. But it is this same modest 
reserve which forms the best attestation of the 
truth of the New Testament teachings. When 
we read that St. Paul seriously warned the new 
converts of Thessalonica by no means to forget 
their common daily work by reason of the bright 
hope of the advent, we are reminded that to this 
day similar undesirable results follow amongst 
Mohammedans from fantastic expectations of a 
coming redemption. If a priest of some reputa- 
tion announces that on such and such a day the 
final judgment may be expected to take place, 
people will seriously set to work to sell their 
property and will give up cultivating their fields 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 1 1 9 

because the end is at hand. Many a sluggard 
will lie in his hut and look on passively while 
the rice birds consume his harvest. He knows 
that bitter starvation may enter his house, but 
he takes comfort from the prospect of another 
world, where he will have food and drink in rich 

The vital forces of the Gospel become manifest 
precisely at those points at which the Moslem 
doctrines seem to be most living and effective. 
Belief in the one God to whom all things are 
subject has overcome the uncertainty which was 
felt by worshippers of spirits with regard to their 
thickly populated spiritual world. But we have 
seen also that Islam is unable to establish the 
true unity and holiness, the omnipotence and the 
mercy of this one God. Evangelical history 
proclaims One who is the reflection of His 
Father's glory, who is sinless, who has power over 
spirits, and who seals His faithful love by death. 
He, being the perfect image of the Father, the 
brightness of His glory, manifests in His character 
the qualities of the holy God. In other words, 
the revelation of Christ who is one in essence 
with the Father preserves the monotheistic con- 
ception of God from distortion. 

From this it follows that the negation of 
animism, which is a fundamental characteristic of 
the Old and New Testaments, guards Christian 

1 20 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

doctrine against the syncretism which characterizes 
Islam in every country, for Islam asserts monothe- 
ism without renouncing animism. The victory 
of biblical teaching over the animistic tendency 
in man is not gained by a detailed prohibition of 
all possible animistic observances, though such 
are not wanting in Scripture. The fundamental 
principle of biblical religion is the restoration of 
true communion between the individual and God, 
realized in a life of prayer which by its very 
nature destroys the inclination to intercourse with 
spirits. Moreover, nature is placed entirely under 
the control of God and thereby the possibility 
of compelling nature by means of magic is removed. 
The monotheistic conception of God in Islam 
which negates the Incarnation tends towards two 
extremes. On the one hand, it removes God as 
separate from the world to an infinite distance 
in order to preserve His distinctness as against 
creation ; but as a result of this the practical 
reality of God is turned into an empty abstraction. 
This is at bottom an atheistic tendency. On the 
other hand, the Moslem believer engages in mystical 
exercises with the object of magically drawing God 
into his soul. He is moved to do this by a desire 
after the one God, but in doing it he confuses man 
and God. In both cases the personality of God is 
assailed. The Christian message avoids this restless 
oscillation between extreme views simply by setting 

Third Study Gottfried Simon 121 

forth the history of God's work in the world. This 
as given in the Bible shows both how far and how 
near God is, how He works upon man and man 
upon Him, and viewed in this aspect the biblical 
history acquires an additional spiritual value. 

The hints which I have given may suffice, though 
others are near at hand. In place of the many 
human and heavenly mediators we have the one 
divine and human Mediator ; in place of a mass of 
regulations sanctioned by God, we have the one 
inexhaustible ideal of life presented to us in the life 
of Christ ; instead of all sorts of means and devices 
to attain the life desired by God, we have the one 
personal Spirit of God who is the renewer of our 
life. The living power bestowed by the Triune 
God upon the believer serves in fact as the helm of 
Christianity as it makes its way over the world, a 
helm which Islam lacks. 

The question may be asked whether, in view of 
the considerations which I have brought forward, 
our conception of what is essentially and vitally 
effective in Christianity has been shifted. In any 
case it has been deepened. Certain aspects of 
Christian doctrine which seemed to me not funda- 
mental for my own religious life have been shown 
by comparison with Islam to be indispensable and 
constructive elements ; while conversely, doctrines 
which I once regarded as necessary for the growth 
of faith I have been now able to put aside for the 

122 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

present, without doubting, however, that though 
they proved non-essential in the beginnings of the 
religious life of the converted Moslem, they will find 
their place in a later development. 

We see then that Christianity has no reason to 
view the display of the powers of Islam with dis- 
couragement. The river of God has water in 
abundance for even the thirsty Moslem world. 
For the water which Islam offers the soul athirst 
for God, sweet and alluring as men may think it, 
cannot possibly satisfy the innermost needs of the 
soul. The vital power of the Gospel alone can do 
that, and this is the precious experience which we 
have every one of us made to whom it has been 
granted to offer the bread of life to the Moslem 


By Professor STEWART CRAWFORD, Syrian Pro- 
testant College, Beirut. 



By Professor STEWART CRAWFORD, Syrian Protestant 
College, Beirut 

THIS article is written from the point of view of one 
who has been in contact with Mohammedanism in 
Syria. Born on the mission field, the author has 
from boyhood been familiar with the language and 
the life of the common people. Fifteen years of 
his active service as a missionary were occupied with 
itinerant work in the field of the Irish Presbyterian 
Church in Damascus and the Anti-Lebanon. He 
was later transferred to the Syrian Protestant 
College in Beirut where he is entering on his tenth 
year as teacher of the Bible and ethics. 

In Syria, Islam is to be seen under comparatively 
favourable conditions. The people are intellectually 
active and imitative. Commerce, the spread of 
intelligence by means of schools and the native 
newspapers, the influence of missions, have all 
introduced western forces into the native environ- 
ment. Socially, it would be difficult to find a race 

more genial and kindly, or more approachable 


126 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

wherever a sympathetic relationship is established. 
Innumerable social opportunities, under all the 
varied conditions of city and village life and of 
wayside travel, have made it possible to see into 
the mind of the Moslem as well as of the oriental 
Christian. In the college, under more unique 
conditions, it has been the writer's privilege to deal 
each year with scores of Moslem youths, many of 
them coming from far distant regions of Islam, and 
to help their minds to unfold in the presence of 
Christian teaching and companionship. The process 
is one of thrilling interest to every lover of his 
fellowmen, and reproduces on a small scale the 
successes, the failures, and the unlooked-for develop- 
ments of the larger field of contact, on the world 
stage, of intelligent Mohammedanism with intelli- 
gent Christianity. This intermingling of earnest 
and intelligent forces, from the two bodies, has 
only just begun ; but in it lies the chief hope of a 
native spiritual uplift, and moral leadership which 
will bring the world of Islam to a consciousness of 
the gospel ideal of 6 self-surrender ' to God. 


Islam remains vital because it is a religion. 
Before all else that it may be socially and politically, 
Islam is a system that in its own way serves to 
maintain the religious life of its followers. Were 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 127 

it not able to meet certain needs of the human 
spirit with influences that nourish a life of faith 
within men, it could not have become the force 
that it is to-day in the personality of so many 
millions of our fellow -beings. This elementary 
proposition is sometimes called in question. To 
all who do so we can only say that they have 
remained strangers to the inward and invisible 
forces of Mohammedanism. 

Islam must also be credited with having called 
into activity many of the noblest forces in the 
nature of man. From the beginning of its history, 
Mohammedanism has been able to adapt to its 
purposes, and in many cases to ennoble, religious 
elements and usages previously existing. In our 
day, this masterful faith is engaged, on a larger 
scale than ever before, in the task of appropriating to 
its uses modern knowledge, ideals, and institutions, 
all of which were undreamed of a thousand years 
ago by the followers of any religion. 

Let us attempt to set forth sympathetically, yet 
as impartially as we can, some of the reasons for 
the continued hold of Islam on the religious nature 
of its followers. The spiritual vitality of the system 
consists not so much in the new movements within 
Mohammedanism, which are observed so frequently, 
as in the natural religious value of its old familiar 
features. Indeed the system as a whole is capable 
of lending itself to a very vital form of religious 

128 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

life, and in every generation is doing so, in some 
measure, for the majority of its adherents. 

1. Among the sources of its strength we would 
mention first the simplicity of the main religious 
ideas underlying Mohammedanism. Islam creates 
in men a profound conviction that there is but one 
God a proposition the simplicity of which has 
ever proved very restful amid the confusing claims 
of polytheism and saint worship, slslam also never 
wearies of proclaiming that God is great Allahu 
akbar a declaration that for the sincerely religious 
is near of kin to the larger Hebrew demand, ' Magnify 
the Lord with me.' The adjective 'great' has no 
necessary physical or unworthy implications. For 
every grade of Moslem intelligence, the word akbar 
connotes all the greatness of which the individual 
speaker has been able to conceive. Such an elastic 
general term, the contents of which have endless 
possibilities of development, may well serve as a 
simple basis for a faith of growing spiritual insight. 
Another fundamental proposition for the Moslem 
mind is that God is a God of judgment. This was 
not only a vital doctrine for many a converted 
polytheist in Arabia, but is to-day the simple basis 
for a great part of the religious effort put forth in 
the lives of individual Moslems, of whatever rank. 
So far we have treated nothing that is distinctively 
Moslem, though it must be repeated most emphatic- 
ally that these three great truths, thus set forth 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 129 

in simple, pregnant statements, are genuine and 
dominating convictions of the popular Moslem 

The distinctively Mohammedan portion of the 
creed of Islam is summed up in the daily and 
almost hourly testimony of its followers that God 
is the God of the prophet Mohammed and of all 
who believe in him. This vital conception of a 
divinely revealed bond between God and the 
followers of His greatest prophet is the mainspring 
of Mohammedan fervour and confidence. This 
primal religious conviction is profound in its 
simplicity, and at the same time is so broad that 
it has provided the basis for all subsequent develop- 
ments of ritual and doctrine. The great mass of 
Moslems, however, dwell simply and devoutly upon 
these great religious propositions, and make little 
attempt to develop them intellectually or to 
reconcile them with their growing knowledge of 
nature, with the history of other religions, or with 
the peculiar ethical problems which modern civiliza- 
tion is forcing on their attention. 

2. j The second element of strength to be observed 
within Islam is the success with which its forms of 
worship promote a certain perennial activity of 
man's religious nature. The oriental temperament 
expresses itself and its moods readily and earnestly, 
although usually in conventional forms. It loves 
to seize upon and perpetuate those forms of utter- 

130 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

ance which provide a channel for the activity of its 
richest impulses. These often become stereotyped 
and to some extent meaningless, but yet, through 
very force of repetition, they are maintained close 
at hand as instruments of the spirit ready for the 
use of the oriental nature when aroused. And how 
truly and how frequently the religious nature of 
Moslems is called into genuine activity in connexion 
with their forms of worship is perhaps rarely 
realized by those who are familiar chiefly with 
the degradation and the ignorance of the average 
Moslem community. 

We see, for example, what a far-reaching impres- 
sion on the religious psychology of the Oriental is 
produced by the acted and spoken prayer of Islam. 
To those brought up under the system, the genu- 
flections of the stated Moslem prayer and the audible 
utterance with which it is accompanied furnish as 
natural and grateful a channel of self-expression, 
godward, as is provided for oriental self-expression, 
manward, by the rich and elaborate though stereo- 
typed usages of polite social life. 

Reference should be made here to the effect on 
Moslems of the call to prayer from the minaret. 
The more artistic and poetic impression made on 
the occidental traveller probably never enters the 
mind of the Moslem. On his part the impression 
made is more concrete and of practical religious 
import. He is proud that the faith of Islam is 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 131 

thereby honoured and proclaimed. Though but a 
small percentage of any community may be found 
to obey regularly the call of the mu'azzin by attend- 
ance upon the mosque, nevertheless every Moslem 
who hears that cry derives from it a sense of religious 
satisfaction that is of vast import in perpetuating 
the hold of the system on its votaries. The mu'azzin 
performs a certain priestly service for his co-religion- 
ists which is approved, more or less consciously, by 
every individual believer within the radius of that 
unique call. 

A similar activity of the religious nature is also 
promoted effectively by the use of the qibla, or 
turning-point in prayer. Every Moslem intends to 
face Mecca in all stated prayer, and from this action 
he derives much the same satisfaction as did Daniel 
when he looked three times a day towards his qibla 
at Jerusalem. Here is a democratic and universal 
act of religious ritual which gives great assurance to 
the believer, not only when engaged in prayer but 
especially during his last illness when his bed is 
turned that he may face Mecca. The same symbolic 
action brings great comfort to the stricken mourners 
as they reverently lay the body of the dead on its 
right side in the grave, with the face turned toward 
their holy city. Moslem society has nowhere yet 
outgrown the stage of religious symbolism in which 
these acts seem of vital significance. 

Brief reference must also be made to the religious 

132 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

value of the fast month because of the heroic demand 
it makes upon the will of the believer. It is all too 
easy a method of criticism to dilate exclusively on 
the crude inconsistencies and the hypocrisy that 
disfigure the fast defects that have appeared in 
every elaborate fast ritual in history. The fact 
remains that for the mass of Moslems the month of 
Ramadhan calls for a degree of self-control that goes 
a long way to maintain their faith in active control 
of their nature. 

The dhiJcr worship is another peculiar feature of 
Islamic activity. This chanted form of service 
begins with steady eager ejaculations, which are 
uttered at an increasing rate of speed and energy 
until a burst of exhausting frenzy is reached. This 
brings each stanza of the chant to a climax, and is 
then followed by a brief interval of silence and rest 
before the chant is resumed and carried through 
the same stages as before. This peculiar relic of 
Canaanite religious activity is not a recognized 
feature of orthodox Islam, but is nevertheless a 
well-nigh universal type of usage and is invariably 
associated with the more mystical dervish move- 
ments which are so common. It is difficult for the 
Westerner to realize what a channel for religious 
energy is provided in the dhiJcr, and how eagerly it 
is employed in every time of deep religious need or 
feeling. These hysterical dhikr exercises afford 
opportunity at times for a whole community to 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 133 

engage in an orgy of spiritual frenzy which intensi- 
fies the hold of Islam upon their natures. The 
great majority of the participants feel then that 
they have 'got religion.' Even the onlookers 
become silent participants in the blessing. Thus 
the reader may realize something of the success with 
which Moslem forms of worship promote an intense 
type of religious activity, and one most satisfying to 
the spiritual nature of its votaries. 

3. A third element of inward strength in the 
Moslem religion is the class consciousness that forms 
a vital bond of union between its adherents. This 
sense of unity is being greatly intensified in our day 
by pressure upon Islam from without. This phase 
of the subject will be touched upon later. In this 
section it is sufficient to point out that a common 
outward practice in worship, and the co-operative 
character of so many of its forms, go a long way to 
create the feeling of oneness that permeates the 
world of Islam. Though greatly divided by doctrinal 
and social differences, which have always made im- 
possible any effective political union on a large scale, 
nevertheless the people of Islam, as such, never lose 
consciousness of the brotherhood of faith as a ground 
of unity underlying all their differences. Any one 
who has seen the Friday mosque services, with their 
long lines of worshippers performing in unison the 
ritual of prayer, will realize the subtle power of such 
a service to weld into one consciousness the religious 

134 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

feelings of the participants. Even the age-long feud 
between Shi'ite and Sunnite has not obliterated the 
class enthusiasm of Islam, begotten of the funda- 
mental shahdda, or testimony to God and His 
prophet, which forms the vital nucleus of every act 
of worship. 

The chief moral effect of the great annual pilgrim- 
age to Mecca is probably to be sought in this con- 
nexion. The greed of those who direct the pilgrims 
at the various shrines, and the frauds practised so 
brazenly on them by the people of the holy city, 
may call for indignant criticism even from the most 
devout Moslem. But these lamentable social defects, 
in most cases, only serve as a foil to the stimulating 
effects of crowd psychology as realized at Mecca. 
The individual pilgrim is awestruck by the mass 
movement exemplified in the pilgrimage of so many 
fellow-believers. When he returns to his distant 
home, no feature of his experience is dilated on with 
more enthusiasm as he narrates the events of the 
pilgrimage to his friends. Thus countless individuals 
are drawn within the mystic spell of a profound 
class consciousness which is essentially religious. 

Modern pan-Islamic movements did not create 
this consciousness. They have each sought to take 
advantage of it, but in most cases with no great 
effect on the masses. Under individual Moslem 
governments this religious unity may seem identified 
for a time with a particular political interest and 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 135 

organization. This is the case, however, only 
because the social and economic influences prevailing 
in a certain area have welded religious and political 
forms of activity into one identical movement. On 
the larger international scale it is otherwise. In the 
latter case, conflicting economic interests ultimately 
render futile any artificial political union which 
bases itself primarily on the existence of a common 
religious faith. Religious zeal can not, for any 
length of time, weld different regions and races into 
a powerful external movement that acts in defiance 
of conflicting economic interests. Those who dream 
of an outward kingdom of pan-Islam, and those who 
dread such a consummation, alike ignore the chief 
lesson of modern historical science, which is that the 
grouping of outward social forces is ultimately de- 
termined by economic necessities. Nevertheless the 
spiritual unity of Islam is a great reality, and acts 
as a powerful promoter of vital religious forces 
throughout all its branches. Increased facilities for 
intercommunication of thought are serving to re- 
vitalize this class consciousness and render it an 
increasing inspiration to individual piety. 

4. A fourth religious influence in Islam that is a 
constant living force is the effect of their sacred 
book upon its readers. The rhythm and the 
spiritual energy of its diction are lost in a trans- 
lation. Even sayings of singular moral fervour lose 
something of their force in another tongue. But 

136 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the impartial reader can discover passages, even in 
a translation of the Koran, which he can see would 
be eagerly seized upon to feed the souls of men who 
knew no deeper fulfilment of their needs. Any one 
who has entered into the life of a Moslem people 
knows that countless numbers draw a simple type 
of spiritual nourishment from the daily repetition 
of sayings from the Koran ; and in many individual 
cases the conscience is thereby genuinely quickened 
along certain noble moral lines. 

The methods of western higher criticism are being 
adopted by some of the younger scholars in Islam, 
who are attempting a new exposition of the litera- 
ture and the tendencies of their religion. By some 
writers the nobler and more striking portions of the 
Koran are being given a publicity and turned to 
uses hitherto unknown. The orthodox leaders are 
disturbed by this new freedom in the use of the 
sacred book. But they are unable to check success- 
fully the tendency of modern education to create 
new forms of religious activity and of personal piety 
in the Moslem world. This new type of devotion 
and of ethical aspiration in the study of the 
Koran may have great significance for the future of 

5^ The fifth feature of present-day Islam that 
indicates the presence of a vital religious energy is 
the progressive idealization of the Prophet's person- 
ality by his followers. The clearest evidence of this 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 137 

process is seen in the maulid form of service. The 
maulid is strictly the anniversary of the Prophet's 
birthday, and is everywhere an occasion for joyful 
public celebration. The term has also come to be 
employed as a name for a certain form of service 
in vogue at circumcisions and weddings or any glad 
social event. At these services the hymns chanted 
by paid leaders and choirs are the principal feature. 
At certain stages in the ceremony the audience 
participates with brief responses. The subject of 
these hymns is invariably the birth of the Prophet 
with a recitation of the significance for heaven and 
earth of that sublime event. The writers of these 
rhapsodies vie with one another in the extravagant 
phraseology with which they set forth the personal 
charms and perfections of the Prophet's physical and 
moral being. The adoration of heavenly beings 
for his person, and the marvellous response of all 
physical nature to his advent on earth, are the 
favourite themes of the maulid poets. They have 
even advanced to a mystical philosophy of the 
Prophet's cosmic significance, in which his pre- 
existence is practically assumed, and the supreme 
influence in heaven of his intercessory function is 
set forth with all the florid wealth of oriental 
imagery. At certain intervals in the service the 
assembly suddenly lapses into an impressive silence 
while all whisper thefatiha prayer. The lips of 
each believer move but no sound is uttered. For 

138 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

this feature of the service, no one rises to his feet 
or changes his position, though all faces wear an 
aspect of devotion. Toward the close of the cere- 
mony, at a given signal, all rise to their feet, and 
face the qibla, while they chant audibly and in 
concert a few lines of direct address to the Prophet, 
in which he is saluted with enthusiastic expressions 
of personal loyalty and devotion. Orthodox leaders 
profess to deprecate many of the tendencies in these 
maulid services, but find themselves utterly powerless 
to stem the rising tide of popular enthusiasm for this 
form of worship. The philosophic conceptions from 
which a practical deification of the Prophet has 
resulted have undoubtedly had their origin in the 
intellectual activity of educated converts from 
Christianity. During past centuries, these men, 
gradually and under a veiled form, have imported 
into their new faith all the mystical doctrines of 
the Church concerning the person of Christ. The 
modern popularity of the maulid mode of worship 
seems partly due to the progressive crystallization 
of the vital forces of Islam in the mould of a moral 
enthusiasm-fthe enthusiasm of personal devotion 
and loyalty to an ideal leader. That this process 
unfolds possibilities of marked moral progress is 
undeniable. That it contains a subtle element of 
strength is seen in the fact that it to a certain 
degree supplies a substitute for the enthusiasm of 
an intelligent, spiritual Christianity. It is to be 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 139 

expected that this type of Mohammedan worship will 
lend itself to considerable adaptation and develop- 
ment, under the pressure of modern ethical and 
spiritual ideals. 

This review of the vital forces of Islam may 
convey to some readers a new sense of the religious 
reality of many forms of Moslem activity. It is 
just this feature of Islam that is often overlooked, 
even by those who are most familiar with its ex- 
ternal features. The moral degradation all too 
evident in most sections of Moslem society produces 
the impression on many otherwise close observers of 
Islam that vital religious experiences are the rare 
exception in Moslem life. Not only does this view 
commit a great injustice in its interpretation of the 
Moslem world but it prevents the Christian friends 
of Islam from making a sympathetic and natural use 
of forces and tendencies which have a real affinity 
for the Gospel. 


The oriental Churches in their ancient home have 
lost all power of spiritual appeal to the Moslem. 
Until they become leavened with a new spiritual 
vitality they can do nothing toward the evangeliza- 
tion of the Moslem masses. It is very different with 
the Protestant bodies that have sought to influence 
Islam. They have everywhere won the respect of 

140 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

such individual Mohammedans as have become 
acquainted with the life and principles of gospel 
believers. Moreover, it has become widely under- 
stood in the Moslem world that Protestant missions, 
notwithstanding their zeal to lead Mohammedans 
away from their faith, do continually render unselfish 
service to old and young. The theological contro- 
versy of centuries between Christian and Moslem 
debaters has no fresh power of appeal to Moslem 
hearers. The latter often admire the dialectical skill 
of the Christian apologist, and often admit that they 
are unable to meet his arguments, but they remain 
unmoved in their adherence to Islam. The practical 
gospel message, however, touches a new chord in the 
Moslem hearer. He gives little heed to the tradi- 
tional doctrinal phrases even when employed by the 
missionary, but his nature is often thrilled by the 
two following fundamental propositions of the Pro- 
testant faith. 

1. The gospel of the divine saving energy appeals 
to the average Moslem mind as a great discovery. 
That God is gracious when He is pleased, or when 
those whom He especially favours intercede with 
Him for their followers, is a commonplace of the 
Moslem faith. But that God has a great desire to 
draw near to men is a new thought to Islam. The 
rich gospel word ' love ' has a strange sound at first 
to the Arab Moslem. Though this term usually 
suggests a pure principle to Moslem thought, it 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 141 

does not connect itself naturally with the holiest 
impulses. For this reason the meaning of the 
Gospel is more directly brought home to Moslems 
by other phrases. Islam professes to magnify the 
principle of self-surrender to God, but it has no 
joyful announcement that God has surrounded man 
with influences that appeal to his conscience and his 
higher self, in order that human nature everywhere 
may be awakened to faith, and may be enabled to 
make an intelligent and loyal surrender of its powers 
to the divine purpose. This way of speaking of God 
rarely offends the Moslem, if it is not confused with 
doctrinal phrases and assertions which awaken the 
age-long suspicions and aversions of the Moslem 
mind. To present Jesus Christ as the supreme 
apostle of this practical saving energy creates a new 
interest in His unique personality. It also creates 
a new appreciation for the Gospel, by directing 
toward this portion of the message some of the 
simple faith in God's greatness that abounds in 
the Moslem heart. 

2. The second feature of evangelical Christian 
faith that appeals with new spiritual force to many 
Moslems is the conviction that ethical interests are 
supreme in all God's dealings with men. There are 
single and isolated statements in the popular Moslem 
philosophy which partially prepare the mind for the 
gospel emphasis on character as the vital element 
in revelation and religion. It is a new thought. 

142 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

however, to the Moslem that the divine activity 
should be ceaselessly and definitely directed toward 
the creation of character in the human race. This 
feature also of the Gospel rarely offends the Moslem. 
To proclaim God as a God of character, and His 
chief revelation as pre-eminently a revelation of the 
laws of character, and to find the test of religious 
truth and progress in the renewal of character 
forces in the lives of believers this conception of 
religion, even though it reveals as by a flash the 
profound moral defects of his own religious system, 
often awakens a sincere response in the Moslem 
conscience. Then a new glory attaches itself to 
Jesus Christ as the apostle of character redemption, 
and in this presentation of His unique religious 
value many Moslems will be found to be profoundly 

Even a limited experience of the moral leadership 
of Jesus Christ leads men far beyond Islam, and 
prepares them to make a spiritual use of doctrinal 

As far as possible such statements had better be 
reserved for private discussion. A great and favour- 
able change is often produced in the attitude of 
individual Moslem inquirers when they learn that 
the blessings of the Gospel depend on a humble 
expectant attitude to the moral leadings of God's 
Spirit as interpreted by Jesus Christ, and not upon 
the acceptance of a creed. 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 143 


The greater portion of the Moslem world knows 
nothing as yet of Christianity except its external 
features. That these historic features should be 
totally misunderstood, when viewed solely from 
without, is but to be expected. There is less 
excuse for the heralds of Christianity when they 
fail to reach a sympathetic realization of the in- 
evitable misapprehension and suspicion that have 
ruled the Moslem mind in its attitude toward all 
things Christian. 

1. The first cause of offence to the Moslem is 
the apparent dishonour done to God by Christian 
doctrine. In the forefront, in this respect, stand 
the doctrines of the Trinity and of the divinity of 
Christ. It is usually true that no amount of 
intellectual explanation will make these seem reason- 
able, or even reverent statements, to the Moslem 
unacquainted with the evangelical Christian spirit. 
The widespread pantheistic tendencies with their 
mystical metaphysical terms seem to prepare certain 
groups of Moslems to accept gladly the doctrine of 
Christ's divinity. In the great majority of these 
cases no ethical value has attached itself to the 
doctrine, and their use of the term is only a travesty 
of an intelligent Christian faith in the unique 
personality of Jesus as a moral revelation of God. 

1 44 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

Thus fundamental Christian doctrines are often 
most misunderstood by those seemingly most 
friendly. The natural alternative for the missionary 
is to set these doctrinal statements firmly and 
deliberately aside, as secondary questions, until 
some common ground of spiritual hunger and 
appreciation can be developed between the rival 
faiths. This course is not easy for men of vigorous 
doctrinal tendencies, nevertheless it may be the 
only course which will help the Moslem masses to 
put first things first. The Moslem who receives from 
the gospel message new light on the moral nature 
of monotheism, will in time come to see the vast 
service that the doctrine of the Trinity has rendered 
to the Church in leading it to a truer knowledge of 
God, but the richer personal appreciation of the 
divine nature must precede any living use of the 
doctrine. From the beginning, frankly tell him 
that he may or may not accept the doctrine in your 
terms, but that you and he together must gain new 
views of the fulness of the divine nature. You have 
then done much to disarm him of the spirit of 
antagonism. Similarly, assure the Moslem that the 
assertion by the Church of the divinity of Christ 
has grown out of a living experience of Christ's 
leadership, and that a similar experience of that 
leadership may be a saving power to men to whom 
the doctrinal interpretation of it seems contradictory. 
Convince him that you are more eager to have him 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 145 

feel the mastery of Jesus over the conscience than 
you are to establish any particular doctrine, and 
he begins to take hold of truth by the right 

Much the same treatment is possible in explaining 
the reality and significance of Christ's death. The 
Moslem believes sincerely that he honours Jesus by 
holding that the Christ was providentially snatched 
away from death. A wholly new light dawns on 
the Moslem mind when it is shown simply that the 
self-surrender of Jesus would have been incomplete 
had He avoided death. Thus the cardinal principle 
of Islam, that of complete surrender to God's will, 
can be applied with telling force to the confirmation 
and the moral interpretation of an event which the 
average Moslem of to-day half suspects must have 
actually taken place. The shrine worship of popular 
Islam has maintained in familiar use a large amount 
of sacrificial phraseology which has no moral affinity 
for the gospel interpretation of salvation by means 
of a Saviour the principles of whose life were glorified 
in His death. Groups of simple Moslems often 
accept the sacrificial terminology of a certain type 
of Christian address all too readily because it 
associates itself, in their thoughts, with the semi- 
heathen formulae or conceptions of the local shrine 
worship. In such cases they have gained no new 
moral interpretation of the ways of God with men. 
To Moslems who are thoughtful enough to be 

146 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

orthodox in their own system, the moral interpreta- 
tion alone can commend the doctrine of the Cross 
and that of the Incarnation. Then only will 
doctrines which seemed to do dishonour to God be 
gradually apprehended by the Moslem as the loyal 
utterances of men who had received a fresh mani- 
festation of God in the glorious interior life of 
Jesus Christ, a life that is inseparable from the 
power of God as He inhabits the human spirit of 
every disciple of Jesus. 

2. A second feature of Christianity that necessarily 
repels all Moslems is the historical denial by 
Christendom of all Mohammedan claims and ex- 
periences. It requires but a slight knowledge of 
comparative religion to convince men that the 
supreme and final revelation of God was not ap- 
prehended in Arabia. The claims of the prophet 
Mohammed, as these have been set forth by his 
followers, will ever be rejected by the Christian 
consciousness as doing violence to spiritual and 
moral reality. Nevertheless vast multitudes owe 
to the Prophet of Arabia all that they have 
consciously received of religious knowledge and 
moral impulse. Countless individuals have also 
drawn near to God sincerely and helpfully in the 
name of Mohammed. Such men know that their 
experience has been genuine. They infer that 
it is blind hostility to truth that prompts the great 
denial of Islam by Christendom. Modern insight 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 147 

into religious psychology is making it possible for 
the missionary to draw a clear distinction between 
claims which are unjustified, and an experience 
which is genuine. In the Moslem controversy we 
now can do justice to lesser truth, while we 
maintain loyal testimony to that which is higher. 
Most students of history now realize that, not- 
withstanding the Prophet's limitations, God used 
the personality and influence of Mohammed to lead 
his followers into a larger and truer religious life, 
and along a more vigorous plane of character 
development. Though only in isolated centres has 
Islam remained a progressive force, it has neverthe- 
less held to its early achievements with marvellous 
vitality. The souls of millions are still thrilled 
by its message. It is now possible for evangelical 
Christianity to apply to the facts of Islam and of 
our own religion one and the same standard of 
historical interpretation for spiritual realities. 
The missionary who disproves the distinctive claims 
of Islam by the methods of science, and its dis- 
passionate spirit, will continue to seem the enemy 
of the faith in Moslem eyes, but he will be thought 
of as an honourable enemy. The Arab race, even 
should it adopt Christianity to-morrow, would 
continue to give a large place in its regard to the 
striking personality and achievements of the 
Arabian prophet. Let us pave the way for the 
final adjustment of spiritual values by projecting 

148 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

ourselves forward into the historical consciousness 
of an evangelized Arabia, and generously insist on 
doing full justice to the greatest historic figure in 
the annals of Arabdom. 

3. Very little needs to be said of the demoralizing 
tendencies in avowedly Christian society to which 
the Moslem can point with honest scorn. He has 
a right to despise the moral standards which 
prevail in those phases of European life with which 
he is most familiar. Islam is often held responsible 
for all the shortcomings of its followers. Can we 
expect the Moslem to judge more discriminatingly 
of Christianity? How rarely does the note of 
humility and confession enter into the Christian 
appeal to the Moslem world ! Perhaps if we varied 
our mode of address and called on earnest Moslems 
to co-operate with us in teaching the world to make 
a new surrender to God, we would find greater 
blessing attending our missionary efforts. Such 
a type of fellowship would enable Moslem and 
Christian to study together the vital things in 
human experience, and would develop in each a new 
loyalty to the moral tests of religion. 

4. This leads us to mention the fourth great 
stumbling-block to Islam in the manifest hostility 
of Christendom to Moslem interests as a whole. 
The age of the crusades is past, but the spirit of 
the crusades apparently still seeks the destruction 
of Moslem domination or even independence. At 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 149 

least so it seems to the Moslem. In view of certain 
recent political adjustments, the cynical indifference 
of European governments to the Moslem point of 
view or sense of justice would seem to some of us 
to confirm the theory that the claims of a common 
humanity, and of a universal law of equity, are 
not applied to the conflict of Moslem and 
Christian interests, as the modern ideal demands 
that they should be applied to rival Christian 
interests. All this appearance of hostility to natural 
human rights embitters the relations of the two 
religions. The missionary purpose and endeavour 
are construed as a part of the hostile intention to 
wipe out Islam. It needs to be made clear that 
the missionary programme includes the conservation 
of every Islamic right, and the utmost consideration 
for every conscientious attempt to promote the 
interests of Islam as a system. The evangelical 
missionary would replace that system as rapidly as 
possible by a great awakening of moral and spiritual 
forces within the Islamic world, an awakening that 
will gradually lift all its peoples into fulness of life 
as made known by Jesus Christ. This is not the 
destruction of Islam, it is rather a transformation 
of its forces and its career by conferring on its 
followers the liberty of the sons of God. The 
evangelization of Islam will not be chiefly or 
essentially a process of humiliation for its peoples, 
but will assuredly confer on them new corporate 

1 50 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

powers and opportunities. No more urgent duty 
devolves upon the present-day missionary to Islam 
than to interpret his aim so that it will be seen to be 
not a hostile propaganda, but rather the enthusiasm 
of humanity that finds its source in the living Christ. 


1. Both systems set a supreme value on faith 
in God, both are beset by the same foes to religion 
in the form of scepticism and materialism. These 
are ancient foes, but they fight with modern weapons, 
and can be met successfully only by providing a 
modern equipment for men of religion. A smatter- 
ing of natural science is bringing thousands of 
young Moslems to deny the invisible forces of 
all religion. The great influx of luxury into the 
social environment is sapping the moral energy of 
the common people. On every hand earnest 
Moslems lament the disappearance of religion. 
Thousands of Christian workers could join hands 
with such men as brothers of the spirit. The 
Moslem weapons for the defence of religion are 
exceedingly old fashioned. Most tactfully and 
patiently the Christian defender of religion must 
enlighten his Moslem brother as to the nature of 
the battleground and the use of modern arguments. 
On these fundamental questions it is possible for 
earnest men to confer with less bigotry than prevails 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 151 

on other lines of religious discussion. They may 
learn to unite in the service of moral and religious 
principle without any immediate alteration in the 
historic position of their respective faiths. Such 
mutual respect and co-operation is never far from 
the kingdom of God. 

2. Another point of contact between the better 
elements of Islam and Christianity is to be found 
in the modern awakening to social aspirations 
and reform. Everywhere new interests are being 
aroused in Islam. Men are discussing the aspects 
of civilization by which society is ennobled. It is 
becoming a commonplace of Moslem writers to speak 
of the vast influence of women for good or evil, and 
to advocate the training of girls for a noble woman- 
hood. This is not infrequently coupled with the 
demand that the modesty and retirement of the 
veil be maintained as against the painted and 
fashionable immodesty of European civilization. 
The new and the old mingle strangely together 
in the new awakening, but there is a genuine desire 
to lift society on to a new level. Here again there 
is a common ground of aspirations for social reform 
which can be made use of in the interests of a 
larger spiritual union, and which will draw together 
in a new bond many of the social leaders in the 
two religions. 

These two points of contact may now be sys- 
tematically developed by the missionary. Some 

152 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

workers still fear that zeal for social reform has 
no necessary affinity for saving faith. Can that 
old dualism be successfully maintained in the face 
of the modern demand for the practical moral 
renewal of society in the interests of a nobler 
individual life ? 


The missionary experience of the Christian Church 
may be expected not only to renew her energies 
but to react even on her own inner development. 
How far may her experience with Islam modify 
any of her thought processes? This may seem a 
startling question for the missionary to put to 
himself, but it may contain some valuable sug- 
gestions as to the best attitude and method to 
be adopted on the mission field. It is only as 
mere suggestions that the writer would venture 
to point out two possible lines of favourable 
influence by Islam on Christianity. 

1. The first is that Christian leaders will come 
to use a simpler and less confusing spiritual ter- 
minology. Only as one has occasion to present to 
Moslems the average type of devotional literature 
does one become aware of the extraordinary con- 
fusion of thought that is produced in their mind 
by the mixture of figurative terms with simple 
matter-of-fact statements. The Moslem often fails 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 153 

to see just what we are most desirous to prove 
to him that Jesus leads us directly to God. An 
educated Moslem inquirer asked pathetically of 
a lady missionary in the Sudan, 'What is the 
secret of the great difference between your religion 
and ours ? ' Her reply was, ' It is because we have 
learned to love Jesus Christ.' Another missionary, 
who heard the lady afterwards describing the 
incident, asked her permission to make a suggestion 
as to a clearer mode of reply. She generously 
asked for the criticism, which was this: 'That 
Moslem would have understood your point better 
had you said "Jesus Christ has taught us how 
to love God." 1 If any one will look with the 
eyes of an intelligent and friendly Moslem at 
much of our hymnology and devotional literature, 
he will see that we often substitute terms for one 
another that do not describe values which are 
precisely equivalent. We may unconsciously mis- 
represent our Lord's purpose by the fervour of 
our figurative phraseology. Whatever confuses the 
Moslem must to a slight degree at least confuse 
our own children and pupils. Mission experience 
among Moslems may clarify and simplify the terms 
in which the central spiritual values of the Gospel 
are set forth by the Church. 

2. The second line of development in Christian 
thought that may be promoted by contact with 
missions to Islam, is the conviction that the rapid 

154 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

extension of the Kingdom among new sections of 
our race depends upon the degree of moral co- 
operation that can be attained between Christian 
leaders and earnest men in other religions. In the 
providence of God, moral issues are now under 
discussion in most of the nations of the world. 
With regard to certain aspects of life a new 
earnestness of thought is manifested. The Spirit 
of God is thus calling into being new instrument- 
alities for the awakening of a higher life in men. 
Is this not a call to the Church to cultivate a 
new method of missionary approach to those who 
have hitherto been regarded as people of an alien 
faith? The thought moulds of their faith may 
still be the crude and outworn doctrines of a 
bygone religious movement, but their natures are 
throbbing under the vital appeal of newly revealed 
moral and social needs. No immediate purpose 
is served by discussing with them the religious 
doctrines to which mainly through force of habit 
they cling. Let us give our time and strength to 
developing a sense of co-operation between their 
newly awakened manhood and all that is Christlike 
in western men. Then the dead can be left to 
bury their dead, while the living interests of man 
are seen to be the direct concern of the kingdom 
of God and of His Christ. Hopeful moral move- 
ments are beginning to take hold of educated 
minds in Islam. Though many such individuals 

Fourth Study Stewart Crawford 155 

have small interest in the Christian creed, they 
long to share the moral uplift of Protestantism. 
The message for these men is the moral stimulus 
to be found in taking Christ's point of view. Where 
even a slight degree of moral co-operation becomes 
possible there is born a sympathetic relationship 
between Moslem and Christian. The changed 
situation will bring in the dawn of a new era 
for Islam and the development of a larger com- 
prehension of divine methods by the Church. 


By Professor SIRAJU 'D DIN, Forman Christian 
College, Lahore (Presbyterian Church in the 
United States of America). 


By Professor SIRAJU 'D DIN 

FOLLOWING upon papers treating of Islam in Egypt, 
Persia, Sumatra and Syria, the present article is 
written by an Indian convert from Islam, a resident 
of Lahore, the capital of the Panjab. 

The British Empire has been called the greatest 
Mohammedan power in the world and India is by 
far the most Mohammedan of British possessions. In 
India, Bengal has a larger number of Mohammedans 
than the Panjab, but the Bengal Mohammedans 
are outnumbered by the Hindus, and in point of 
influence and education they are far behind. The 
Panjab is therefore the most Mohammedan of 
India's provinces ; the bulk of the Panjab popula- 
tion being Mohammedans, and in point of influence, 
as well as on account of the proximity of the 
Mohammedan countries of Afghanistan, Baluchistan 
and Persia, the Panjab holds a unique position in 
India as the stronghold of Indian Mohammedanism. 
It is also noteworthy that the largest number of 

Christian converts from Islam in India are from 


1 60 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the Panjab. Indian Mohammedans are also non- 
Arabic speaking people. I emphasize this point, 
for the Mohammedan scriptures, as scriptures, are 
read and the entire canonical Mohammedan de- 
votional exercises are conducted up to the present 
time the twentieth century of the Christian and 
the fourteenth century of the Mohammedan era 
in Arabic, a language altogether unintelligible to 
nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand 
of Indian Mohammedans. From what I know of the 
spirit of Islam, I venture to make the same state- 
ment about Mohammedans all over the world, 
except Arabia, Egypt and Syria, where Arabic is 
the spoken language of Mohammedans. Through 
their political and educational conditions Indian 
Mohammedans have been more thoroughly leavened 
by western civilization than the Mohammedans of 
any other country in the world, not excepting even 
Turkey in Europe. 

I write therefore from the point of view of one 
who is familiar with Mohammedanism as it prevails 
in the Panjab. I have accepted the invitation to 
write on the subject of the vital forces of Christianity 
and Islam for two reasons : First, because of my 
personal experience of some of the good things of 
both these faiths ; secondly, because during the 
course of my research as an inquirer (which lasted 
for nine long years, and of which during the first 
four years all my spare time, before and after 

Fifth Study Siraju 'd Djn 161 

school and college hours, was almost exclusively 
devoted to secret prayerful investigation) although 
at first the whole realm of religion seemed to me 
to be like an infinite expanse with no visible 
horizon, and the search after God like an ocean 
whose shores are beyond human ken, I very soon 
came to hold the position that truth lay between 
Islam and Christianity and all my subsequent 
thought was consequently confined to these two 


To start with, it will help us to remember that 
Islam is a Semitic faith in its origin, its conception 
and its power, belonging as it does to the brother- 
hood of the trio of faiths claiming Abraham as 
their great pillar and in an important sense their 
founder; that it claims to be the successor and 
the superseder of Judaism and Christianity, and 
that its sacred book has borrowed unreservedly 
from the history of these two faiths unfortunately 
making a regular mess of sacred history for lack 
of the historic sense in the mind of its author 
as well as from the moral, social and political codes 
of both systems and particularly the former. It 
will also help us in understanding Islam, as well 
as in dealing with Moslems, to conceive of Islam 
as Judaism revived, reformed (in the partial light 
of Christianity) and perpetuated. With all due 


1 62 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

reverence for the word of God we may in our 
dealings with the Mohammedans justifiably expand 
its teachings as follows: 'The law was given by 
Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: 
but during the age of grace, owing chiefly to the 
gracelessness of its advocates, law was reintroduced 
by the great son of Hagar, re-establishing for 
millions of the human race the covenant of Mount 
Sinai in Arabia which gendereth to bondage 
finally, to bring, let us hope, in the providence of 
God, many of these millions to partake in the 
blessings of the new covenant as citizens of 
Jerusalem which is above and is free and the 
mother of us all.' For the exceedingly close 
resemblance between the Jew and the Mohammedan 
notice the articles in the creed of Islam which 
express belief in God and in His angels and in His 
books (all the books of the Old and New Testa- 
ments) and in His prophets (all the Old Testament 
prophets and Jesus as another of the long line 
of prophets) and in the day of judgment, and the 
apportioning of good and evil by Himself, and in 
the resurrection of the dead (not in the trans- 
migration of souls). 

After Professor Crawford's most sympathetic, 
impartial and forcible description of the vital forces 
of Islam, I shall only very briefly touch on some 
of the vital points. I make his account my own 
and most strongly re-invite the attention of every 

Fifth Study Sir aju V Din 163 

missionary working among Mohammedans to this 
part of his paper as well as to his statement of 
those features in Christianity that repel Moslems, 
for I believe that the sources and depth of the 
vitality of Islam at its best are not generally 
understood by missionaries ; hence largely the failure 
in winning Mohammedans for Christ. 

The foremost teaching of Islam is that emphati- 
cally Jewish teaching of the one God, Jehovah, the 
Moslems 1 Allah in contradistinction to the gods of 
the heathen, which is the one great lesson of the 
whole Old Testament history and teaching. Hence 
Roman Catholic Christianity on account of certain 
idolatrous practices creates great repulsion in the 
mind of a Mohammedan. This inheritance from 
Abraham's faith of strict monotheism saves the 
Moslem from idolatry, atheism, gross superstitions 
of the heathen and their pusillanimity of character, 
and imparts to him that sturdiness of faith which 
serves as a safeguard against the faithlessness of 
suicide and the fears of plague and pestilence. 
During the last few years of the prevalence of 
plague in India there was a marked contrast 
between the conduct of the idolatrous heathen who 
in panic and fright fled from their villages and 
towns, in many cases heartlessly leaving their nearest 
and dearest dying ones to their own sad fate, and 
that of the Mohammedans who stuck to their homes 
in the faith that Allah was everywhere and that the 

1 64 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

time of their death was fixed, and who perhaps 
enjoyed comparative immunity from the ravages of 
the dread disease. 

The Moslem's strong faith is greatly assisted by 
the easy rationalism of Islam, the rationalism of 
Semitic theism, which is another source of its 
strength. This leads us to emphasize the study 
of the Old Testament in Christian schools and 
homes as a basis for Christian theism. Some of 
the sublimest parts of this great book should be 
learnt by heart. The devotional life of pious 
Mohammedans is another important feature of 
Islam. It originates in the idea of merit, but it 
also finds its motive power in that peculiar delight 
and consolation to the soul which is an accompani- 
ment of the communion with the unseen and which 
often shows itself in the expression of the devotee's 
face. Protestant Christianity in its protest against 
certain tendencies of Roman Catholicism seems to be 
failing in its emphasis on this important feature of 
religious life. 

As has been suggested in a previous paper in the 
present volume, the chanting of the Koran has a 
peculiar effect on the religious earnestness of a 
Moslem, irrespective of the meaning of what he is 
chanting. For instance, the following vindictive 
verses are read with great reverence and deep 
musical effect in the course of prayer : ' Both the 
hands of Abu Lahab are cut off and he himself is 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 165 

cut oft*. He will soon fall into flaming fire and also 
his wife who carries fuel on her head ' ; or again the 
following verses : ' O Prophet, we have made it 
lawful for thee to have for thy wives those women 
whose marriage gifts thou hast paid and those 
concubines that God has given into thy hands, and 
the daughters of thy paternal and maternal uncles 
and aunts, who have fled with thee from Medina, 
and believing women who offer themselves to the 
Prophet if the Prophet desire to marry them. This 
permission is particularly for thee and not for 
other believers.' This shows how, especially 
among the non-Arabic speaking Mohammedans, 
both the devotional exercises and the chanting 
of the Koran become, to a large extent, formal 
mechanical exercises with no corresponding spiritual 
uplift. It is interesting to note here that Islam 
does not allow music or singing ; a person indulging 
in singing is regarded as an infidel. Chanting the 
Koranic verses partly fills up the gap in the 
Moslem's heart. But mystics, who generally fling 
aside all irksome demands of the Moslem law, freely 
indulge in music and call it ' the food for the 

The strength of the social bond in Islam may 
also be traced to its Semitic origin. The most 
prominent feature here is the idea of brotherhood 
and equality in Islam. The following lines, quoted 
from a report of the address of a great Hindu 

1 66 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

speaker in Calcutta in connexion with the recent 
Balkan war, throw light on this subject : 

In his opinion, the so-called democracy in Europe 
existed only in name. Caste in India, however bad 
and much maligned it might be, was a thousand 
times better than the invidious distinction observed 
between the rich and the poor. Real democracy lay 
in the teachings and the lofty religion of the Prophet 
of Arabia. He had been to Lucknow where he visited 
a building which, he was told, used to serve as a 
common place of worship during the Mohammedan 
rule. While going round the edifice, he asked his 
guide, * What portion used to be the place for the 
Nawab and his family during divine service ? ' This 
query irritated the gentleman, who said rather ex- 
citedly, 'What? Place for the Nawab in the house 
of God ? The Nawab stood by the common street 
beggar.' This, remarked the speaker, was true 
democracy which no religion except Islam, not even 
Hinduism, could establish. Europe was drifting on 
the current of unmanning materialistic luxury. So it 
was indispensable that Turkey should be there with 
the transcendental teachings of self-abnegation of her 

That the teaching and example of the Prophet 
of Nazareth on the subject of the brotherhood of 
man are unequalled in history is admitted by all, 
but the deplorable fact yet remains that the 
unchristian materialistic tendencies of modern 
civilization, which are shutting men out from one 
another on account of the colour bar and the 

Fifth Study Siraju 'd Din 167 

barrier of riches, are sapping the foundations of 
the highest spiritual life in Christendom and keep- 
ing people away from Him who came to establish 
the reign of freedom and brotherhood on earth and 
mixed on terms of equality with the humblest and 
the lowliest, the outcast and the publican. 

The last but not the least of the vital forces of 
Islam is that supplied by Sufiism or mysticism, 
which by its secret teaching has coloured the whole 
life of Islam. No Mohammedans, except perhaps 
the Wahhabis, are truly Unitarians ; all others have 
been led to deify Mohammed more or less. I had 
a Wahhabi neighbour who would never sing any of 
those beautiful hymns addressed to Mohammed 
which are the life and soul of an ordinary devout 
Mohammedan. There was a famous old devout 
man in the same neighbourhood, a great author of 
hymns, whose very breath of life it was to 
compose hymns in adoration of Mohammed. The 
devout Mohammedan is never so enthusiastic as 
when he calls on his Prophet, ' Yd Nabi ' (O Prophet), 
' intercede for me before God on the judgment 
day and have my sins forgiven.' Hymns to the 
Prophet are sung most enthusiastically and devotion- 
ally on the birthday of Mohammed (a very common 
practice which is sometimes condemned by the 
ultra- orthodox Mohammedans as un-Islamic and 
savouring of Christianity), and on the day of 
Mohammed's mtfraj or ascension, as well as on the 

1 68 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

lattatii'l qadr the night on which God apportions 
good and evil for the whole year. Pious men, and 
women who are naturally more dependent and 
religious, are never so full of devotion as on these 
occasions. Their whole nature is stirred up and 
their whole heart goes out in worship and adoration 
when these hymns are sung. The entire popular 
religion as well as literature is saturated with the 
deification and glorification of Mohammed. In- 
numerable instances of this could be cited from 
Mohammedan literature. One line of a popular 
hymn runs thus : ' What a manifestation of the 
glory of Ahmad (Mohammed) is there in the 
garden. In every flower and in every plant the 
light of Mohammed is visible. 1 Among the Shi'a 
Mohammedans sometimes 'All the son-in-law of the 
Prophet or Hasan and Husain the grandsons of the 
Prophet are deified. Others pay divine honour to 
the great Pir 'Abdul Qadir JilanI, a descendant of 
the Prophet. Two lines of a hymn addressed to this 
Pir read thus : ' Thou removest sorrow, thou takest 
away pain. Thou forgivest sins. Thou didst restore 
the widow's son to life. Thou didst transform a 
thief and robber into a saint. 1 In Kashmir 'the 
country of saints, 1 the constant invocation on the 
lips of a Mohammedan is ' Yd Pir ' (O Pir 'Abdu 1 ! 
Qadir JilanI). There is nothing more soul stirring 
in Mohammedan worship than to hear these prayers 
and hymns chanted in the ' service of the Pir Saljib, 1 

Fifth StudySir aju *d Din 169 

which is held at night and continued until early 
morning. Here then, we believe, is the most vital 
force in Islam that binds the souls of the most 
earnest seekers after God to what they believe to 
be ' Islam.' 


More than individual dissatisfaction with the 
vexatious requirements of compulsory fasting for 
a whole month, especially under the strenuous 
conditions of modern life, and the observance 
of five stated daily prayers with the necessary 
ablutions, the neglect of any of which condemns 
the believer to long years of punishment, has 
been felt chiefly by a certain school of advanced 
educated Mohammedans. This has been expressed, 
more by example than in words, by the leaders 
and followers of the school in a growing slackness 
concerning these two cardinal and most exacting 
duties of Islam. Of the other three cardinal 
duties, the repetition of the Kalima or creed 
entails no particular inconvenience, while pilgrim- 
age and almsgiving are not of universal applica- 

Dissatisfaction has also been felt with the lip- 
worship of which there is bound to be too much 
in a legalistic religion like Islam, especially in 
non- Arabic speaking countries where not a word of 

1 70 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the elaborate ceremonial is understood. Some years 
ago an Indian Maulawi challenged the whole Moslem 
world to show that prayers could not be offered 
in one's mother-tongue, but no practical results 
have followed from this challenge so far. Prayers 
are still repeated in Arabic by Mohammedans 
all over India. Sufi ism or mysticism may be 
regarded from this point of view as a reaction 
against the legalism of Islam. It is a common 
saying among the Mohammedans that ' true inward 
peace and consolation can be found not in legalistic 
Islam, but in Sufiism.' A deep insight into the 
divine personality of Jesus Christ and the human 
limitations and imperfections of Mohammed is 
afforded here. The latter in his human impatience 
was anxious to correct and reform the small 
details in the lives of his followers, to the extent 
of explaining how high their trousers should be 
from the ankles and in what fashion they should 
clip the hair of the moustache, whereas the former 
ignored even the more important details in the 
lives of His disciples, hungering only to impart 
His spirit unto them, and knowing that if they 
could but get His spirit and become like-minded 
with Him the details of their conduct would 
work themselves out rightly, though not with the 
dead uniformity of Islam. 

The greatest dissatisfaction is beginning to be 
felt all over the Mohammedan world in connexion 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 171 

with the retrogressive tendencies of Islam in 
matters political and social, and this dissatisfaction 
is bound to grow in intensity as well as extent 
with the progress of education and enlightenment. 
This is but the necessary consequence of being 
led by the great son of Hagar and Ishmael back 
into the bondage of law after having come out 
from the bondage of the Jewish law into the 
liberty of the Gospel. First, let us notice the 
spirit of political retrogression. The Koran lays 
down in black and white certain laws relating to 
life and property, which, since it claims to be the 
final and most perfect revelation, must be binding 
for all time, all countries and all stages of civiliza- 
tion ; e.g. that a thief s hands should be cut off ; 
that an adulterer should be stoned to death ; that 
we should be guided by the law of a tooth for 
a tooth, an eye for an eye, an ear for an ear; 
that property should be divided among the 
survivors of a deceased person in certain fixed 
proportions named in the Koran. Sir John 
Malcolm in his history of Persia tells of the 
age-long feuds between families and tribes resulting 
from the purely retaliatory law of a tooth for a 
tooth. The writer knew a Pathan whose son was 
accidentally killed by a man and who therefore 
cherished in his breast, for long years, an intense 
desire to kill the murderer of his son ; the neglect 
of this religious duty was regarded by the father 

172 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

as culpable in the sight of God. Hence there 
is no room for legislation either criminal or civil 
or social. All that is left to the believer is the 
interpretation of the law in particular cases. I 
know of a devout Mohammedan friend who 
declined the offer of a high administrative post 
under the Government, preferring to remain in 
clerical work, with no prospect of a rise, because 
he could not conscientiously execute the man-made 
laws of the British Government in opposition to 
the God-made laws of Islam as laid down in 
the Koran. Hence also the justifiable feeling 
of helplessness and impatience shown in the 
matter of parliaments and legislation by some 
of the Turks, as being against the express 
mandates of their holy book and the traditions 
and the example of the founder of their religion. 
What a contrast between this covenant that 
gendereth to bondage and the glorious liberty 
of the Gospel which is so elastic as to suit all 
grades of civilization ! 

The dissatisfaction of the modern educated 
Mohammedan with the political bondage of Islam 
is exceeded only by his dissatisfaction with its 
whole social system, especially as regards the 
relation of the sexes. The most potent causes of 
complaint are polygamy, divorce, the veil, and also 
concubinage and jiJidd or religious war, wherever 
the last two still bear sway. Of all these, polygamy 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 173 

is the burning question among Indian Moham- 
medans at present. From all sorts of quarters, 
including the conservative Mohammedans, opinions 
are expressed condemning polygamy as not only 
harmful but vicious and even criminal. There 
is a new sect of some considerable importance 
called the Ahl i Qu^an, or the people of the Koran, 
scattered over several cities of the Panjab. They 
claim the Koran to be the only rule of faith and 
practice to the entire exclusion of the Traditions. 
The founder of this sect, when asked his opinion 
about polygamy, told the writer that he considered 
it to be as bad as fornication. When questioned 
further whether the Prophet had more than one 
wife, he emphatically declared (in the teeth of all 
authentic history) that neither Mohammed nor any 
of the prophets ever married more than one wife. 
One of the most learned Mohammedan leaders, 
who was held in high esteem by all Indian 
Mohammedans, puts on the title page of a most 
pathetic story on polygamy the following words: 
' Listen to me if your ears are not deaf, on no 
account whatsoever marry two wives, 1 for, as he 
puts it elsewhere, ' a man has not got two hearts 
in his breast. 1 In a local Mohammedan women's 
paper, published as this article is being written, 
a lady strongly condemns an educated Moham- 
medan, who has been to England, for having 
called a bigamous person a fornicator and a 

174 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

tyrant, and then, after his own return from 
England, marrying a second wife. The manager 
of the paper, as though conscious of the fact that 
such a condemnation of bigamy went too far into 
the roots of Islam, adds by way of explanation, 
while still strongly condemning bigamy, that 'two 
wives may be allowed if the husband gives two 
similar houses, similar clothes, the same amount 
of money to each wife 1 as though polygamy was 
a luxury for the rich ! ' and equal attention to 
both. 1 But do rich men possess two hearts in 
their breasts? 

'Marry,' says the Koran, 'from amongst the 
women that please you, two or three or four, and 
if you are afraid you will not be able to do justice, 
then marry one.' The tendency among educated 
Mohammedans is to defend Islam against polygamy 
by emphasizing the conditional clause, 'if you are 
afraid you will not be able to do justice,' so 
stringently, and to interpret justice in such an abso- 
lute and metaphysically perfect sense as to make it 
mean that it was impossible for any one to be just 
and hence to marry a second wife. But the practice 
and example of the Prophet and his immediate 
followers, as well as of the Mohammedans in all 
countries other than India (where Hindu ideals 
are partly responsible for the greater prevalence of 
monogamy), falsify such a prohibition of polygamy. 
In fact, while condemning polygamy in such strong 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 175 

language, Mohammedans forget all the time that 
their Prophet was a greater polygamist than any of 
his followers, for while he allowed only four wives 
to the believers he himself had more than a dozen 
of them. 

The same attempt is made to show that divorce 
is allowed only in extreme emergency, but the 
constant reiteration of permission for divorce in 
the Koran and the example of its founder and his 
best friends, as well as the practice of non-Indian 
Mohammedans, prove this to be false. One of 
the two beloved grandsons of Mohammed, the 
Imams Hasan and Husain, held in the highest 
esteem by all Mohammedans and believed by Shi'as 
to be the propitiators for their sins, divorced scores 
of wives according to the best Shi'a authorities on 
the subject. 

The veil has also its origin in the Koran, where 
the Prophet's wives and faithful women are ordered 
to hide themselves from all men except their fathers, 
sons, brothers, nephews and slaves. The same 
remarks apply to concubinage and jihad. The 
truth is that the roots of the entire social system 
of Islam are deep down in its foundations in the 
very life and conduct of its founder. Here Islam 
stands self-condemned. It has, moreover, its own 
condemnation in its divine unalterable scriptural 
basis, for the Koran claims to be the eternal, the 
final and the perfect revelation. Hence in the 

176 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

words of the note repeatedly sounded at the 
Lucknow Conference of 1911, 'Reformed Islam 
with its advocacy of parliaments, legislative bodies, 
abolition of polygamy, divorce, the veil, etc. would 
be Islam no longer. 1 This inherent weakness of 
Islam has been and will continue to be one of the 
potent causes in the conversion of Moslems to 


The Mohammedan speaks of himself and the Jew 
and the Christian as the Ahli Kitab (the people of 
a book), and so they are. As it is with a Jew, 
so in the case of a Moslem, you can never make 
an appeal to any earnest-minded Mohammedan 
apart from the Scriptures. I have seen many a 
Christian lecturer as well as preacher address 
Mohammedans without directly referring them to 
the Scriptures. Make your preaching or your 
lecture as philosophical or as scientific as you like, 
but base it on the word of God and keep as close 
to the word as possible throughout your exposition 
of the subject. You will find that the word is quick 
and powerful. It may be mentioned in this con- 
nexion that the argument from prophecy possesses 
a very great power of appeal for the Moslem. 
The story of the Hebrew nation as depicted in the 
Bible and their fate as borne out by their history 

Fifth Study Siraju 'd Dm 177 

subsequent to the crucifixion carry much weight 
with them. 

The teaching of our Lord is admired even though 
it is said to be so high as not to be practical. But 
the Moslem is satisfied when he is told that our 
Saviour literally practised what He preached. The 
virtue of forbearance as shown by the servants of 
Christ also attracts them. But offence is caused 
by our inconsistency, our division of our lives into 
water-tight compartments. As a preacher of the 
Gospel a man may show forbearance, but in his 
capacity as a private individual he may be vindictive. 
Hence the importance of patience and love and tact 
in private life as well as in bazar preaching. Control 
of temper in some slight detail may leave a lasting 
impression. As an inquirer I was once greatly 
touched by the conduct of a Mohammedan convert 
to Christianity, from whose hands one of the 
audience snatched his Bible while he was preaching 
and walked away with it, the preacher showing no 
perturbation of spirit. 

There can be no two opinions as to the great 
influence of the Christian institutions for the relief 
and remedy of suffering, ignorance and darkness, in 
the form of hospitals, schools, homes for widows, 
orphanages, and leper asylums. But their efficiency 
is minimized by the Christian worker's greater 
allegiance to the profession than to the object of 
the profession, by making the profession an end 

178 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

instead of always looking on it as a means for win- 
ning souls. A medical or educational missionary is 
oftentimes too much of a doctor or an educationist 
to bear direct out-and-out witness to his Master, 
and is apt to think a great deal too much of his 
efficiency as a doctor or a teacher at the expense of 
his success in winning souls. 

The idea of secret Christian prayer, if translated 
into life, appeals to the devout Mohammedan, and 
so do the simplicity and naturalness of Christian 
public prayer, as well as the Christian family prayer, 
the last being altogether unknown to the Moham- 
medans. In this respect the simple worship of the 
more liberal evangelical churches is more attractive 
to the Moslem than the elaborate High Church 
ritualistic service which may sometimes have even 
a repulsive effect on the mind of a Mohammedan 
at first sight, as savouring of idolatry. 

Our Lord's miracles when presented as the 
triumphs of the life of faith are greatly appre- 
ciated. But what we need more is the living faith 
to work miracles. Protestant Christianity in its 
reaction against Romanism, while accepting the 
highest form of miracle in the world of conscience, 
has unfortunately and inconsistently denied the 
present operation of miracles in the lower and 
physical world. This is a stumbling-block to the 
religious nature of the Orient, and this kind of 
stumbling-block goeth not out except by faithful 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 179 

prayer and fasting. Notice also the bearing of the 
greatest miracle-working faith on rational theism 
which is so dear to Islam. By far the most con- 
vincing argument in favour of theism is the super- 
natural intervention of God in the form of a 
miracle, and Jesus Christ Himself is unquestionably 
the greatest and most historic and the most vital 
of all miracles. In the presence of Christ what 
sceptic or atheist can even foolishly say ' There is 
no God ' ? 

The ethical freedom of Christianity and its 
spirituality have a great charm, especially for the 
Mohammedan mystic who in vain seeks in the 
Koran for something that is not to be found there 
at all, and who with the famous Persian mystic, 
Maulawl Jalalu'd Dm Rum!, exclaims, ' I have 
gathered the marrow from the Koran, but I have 
thrown away the bones before the dogs.' What he 
strives to draw out from the sacred book of the 
Moslems by the most indirect and unwarranted 
ratiocination is the very life and breath of the 
Christian Scriptures. 

One of the greatest concrete attractions for the 
world of Islam is the realization of free strong 
Christian womanhood as presented by the sight of 
a Florence Nightingale or any of God's humbler 
handmaids devotedly, quietly and patiently doing 
their work, day after day and year after year, in the 
streets and zenanas of all great cities in mission 

1 80 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

lands, without any of those fears which Islam con- 
ceives in the public appearance of women. It is 
one of the greatest triumphs of Christianity to 
demonstrate to Islam that it is possible not only for 
one but for hundreds and thousands of women to be 
liberated from the shackles of custom and to be 
brought from the dark seclusion of the hareem into 
the bright broad daylight of God's active out-of- 
door world, transforming the prisoner of sex into 
a service-rendering, misery-relieving, humanity-up- 
lifting angel. 

The last and the greatest attraction, particularly 
to Islam and generally to any religion, is for us to 
believe and to demonstrate that Christ Jesus came 
not to destroy but to fulfil the best and highest 
aspirations of every religion, to present Christianity 
more as fulfilment and less as destruction, to apply 
the golden rule of sympathy in studying the deepest 
religious experiences of the most earnest-minded 
Mohammedans, to clothe Christian truth, with the 
necessary safeguards, in terms of that experience (as 
has been already very partially done in the case of 
Christian hymnology) so as to bring the truth home 
to their hearts most effectively in short to prove 
that Christ the desire of all nations is also the desire 
of the devout Moslem's heart. 

And this brings us at once to the subject of 
the points of contact between Christianity and 

Fifth Study Sir aju V Djn 181 


We believe that our method of approach to the 
Mohammedan should be essentially the same as the 
method of our Lord and of St. Paul in dealing with 
the Jews. The greatest power of appeal lies in the 
points of contact, for the Mohammedan religion is 
fundamentally Semitic in its origin. 

With the briefest reference to the well-known 
vast region of resemblances in the fundamental 
beliefs, namely, the belief in the unity of God, in 
His prophets and His revealed books, in the resur- 
rection of the dead and the day of judgment, and 
furthermore the belief in all the peculiar events of 
our Lord^s life, namely, His supernatural birth, His 
miraculous life, His ascension and His second com- 
ing we pass on to notice the phenomenon which 
reveals the great common ground of appeal in the 
shape of religious experience. (The writer can bear 
personal testimony to the fact of having met with 
men of deep spiritual experience in Islam, as well 
as with the phenomenon of lives made extremely 
sensitive to sin.) We postulate that the Moham- 
medan mind has in all centuries, contrary to the 
spirit of Islam, sought for a mediator and found or 
made one by idealization. Mohammedan literature 
as well as popular Mohammedan religion bear 
abundant testimony to this fact, but we shall here 

1 82 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

quote only from the orthodox Moslem's primary 
sources of authority. Both the most reliable and 
final authorities on the traditions of Mohammed, 
namely, Bukhari and Muslim, agree in relating the 
following tradition which is known to Mohammedans 
by the name of the Tradition of Shqfcfatu 7 Kubra or 
the great intercession. All sinners, among whom, 
it is worthy of note, all saints of God are included, 
will, on the day of judgment, when the wrath of 
God is kindled against the sins of men, seek for a 
mediator among the prophets. They will come to 
Adam, the first man, and entreat him to intercede 
on their behalf. Adam will be ashamed to remember 
his own sins and acknowledge his inability to inter- 
cede for them. He will direct them to Noah, the 
first of the prophets. Noah will remember his own 
sins and confess his inability to plead for the sinners, 
and so on in turn with Abraham, the friend of God 
and the father of the faithful, and Moses, the servant 
of God, the one who spoke with God face to face. 
Moses will send them on to Jesus, who will finally 
guide them to Mohammed, ' whose former and latter 
sins have been forgiven." Mohammed will then be 
the only man who will dare to intercede for the 
sinners. Three facts are most notable here. First, 
that prophets are also sinners. Second, that whereas 
each prophet acknowledges his inability to inter- 
cede ' because he remembers his own sins,' Jesus is 
not said to have remembered His sins, but is made, 

Fifth Study Sir aju V Dm 183 

without reason, to send sinners on to Mohammed. 
Thus it is acknowledged that He is the sinless 
Prophet. But the most noteworthy fact is this, that 
out of the whole human race only one man is found 
worthy of interceding for the sins of the whole 
world. Let the Moslem acknowledge this truth 
and more than half the battle of Christianity against 
Islam has been fought and won. Apply the 
Mohammedan's criterion of being without personal 
sins as a necessary condition for intercession, and 
you have convinced him of the truth as far as intel- 
lectual conviction can go. Furthermore, if there is 
only one man in the whole world who can be the 
intercessor, surely God would be unjust if He were 
not to put some clear unmistakable marks on him, 
so as to make him absolutely unique and separate 
from the rest of the world. Now by the common 
admission of both Christianity and Islam, Jesus 
Christ bears not one but five such marks : firstly, 
the ante-birth mark, the unique unbroken series of 
prophetic announcements about His birth and life 
and death; secondly, the birth-mark, His unique 
virgin birth ; thirdly, the life-mark, His life of 
unique supernatural power; fourthly, the death- 
mark, His unparalleled destiny in the form of 
ascension to the heavens alive ; fifthly, the post- 
death mark, His unique privilege in the shape of 
second coming. 

Turning now to the second great sect of Islam, 

1 84 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the Shi'a Moslems, we find here not only the belief 
in a mediator, but also salvation through the 
mediator's sufferings. We read in 'Hassan and 
Hussain? by Colonel Pelly, Political Resident in 
the Persian Gulf (pp. 336 ff.) that on the day of 
judgment even the prophets will be heard crying 
aloud for their own salvation. Mohammed is re- 
presented as being in extreme distress because his 
people have been consigned to everlasting perdition. 
Finally Gabriel brings the key of paradise and 
delivers it to Mohammed with the following message 
from his God : ' Heave not such burning sighs from 
thy breast. He who has seen most trials, endured 
most afflictions and been most patient in his suffer- 
ings, the same shall win the privilege of intercession. 
He shall raise the standard of intercession in the 
day of judgment who hath voluntarily put his head 
under the sword of trial, ready to have it cloven 
into two like the point of a pen. Take thou this 
key of intercession from me and give it to him who 
has undergone the greatest trials.' Mohammed then 
orders all the prophets to appear before himself and 
one by one to relate their sufferings. The keenest 
competition is between Jacob and Hasan. (Jesus 
Christ is not mentioned as a competitor, for accord- 
ing to the Mohammedan belief, He is not supposed 
to have been crucified.) The judgment is finally 
pronounced in favour of Husain, God Himself 
declares ' None has suffered like Husain, none has 

Fifth Study Sir aju V Djn 185 

like him been obedient in my service. The privilege 
of making intercession for sinners is exclusively his. 1 
Here we have the real essence of the doctrine of 
atonement, namely, salvation by the greatest suffer- 
ing of the most obedient son of man. The principle 
is there, all that we have to do is to appeal to the 
actual facts in human experience and show where it 
has been fulfilled. 

Compare with this belief the custom of 'Aq'iqa 
permitted by all the four Imams, according to 
which the parents offer an animal as a sacrifice for 
the life of a boy or girl and the mulla tells the 
father to pronounce the following words at the 
moment of offering the sacrifice : ' O God, accept 
this animal from me for my son or daughter as a 
ransom, blood for blood, flesh for flesh, bones for 
bones, skin for skin, and hair for hair.' 

Coming finally to Sufiism, we find the most 
fundamental Christian doctrine of the nature and 
person of Christ realized spiritually and interpreted 
metaphysically. We shall here quote only from one 
book entitled Al Insaniil Kamil, or ' The Perfect 
Man ' (notice the Christian title) written by a great 
Mohammedan divine of the eighth century of the 
Mohammedan era and covering more than 200 
pages of fine Arabic print. An abstract of this 
book in English, called The Doctrine of' Absolute 
Unity as expounded by 6 Abdu V Karlma V Jlldm, from 
the pen of a learned Panjabi Mohammedan, appeared 

1 86 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

in 1900 in the Indian Antiquary of Bombay from 
which the following detached sentences have been 
culled : 

A condensed statement of the doctrine of the Perfect 
Man as given by the author himself runs thus : ' Divine 
nature soars upwards, human nature sinks downwards, 
hence perfect human nature must stand midway be- 
tween the two in one word, the Perfect Man must 
be the God-man.' The author has greatly emphasized 
the doctrine of the Logos a doctrine which has 
always found favour with almost all the profound 
thinkers of Islam. He becomes the paragon of per- 
fection, the object of worship, the preserver of the 
universe. He is the point where man-ness and God- 
ness become one and result in the birth of the God- 
man. The Perfect Man is the joining link. In the 
God-man the absolute being which has left its absolute- 
ness returns into itself, and but for the God-man it 
could not have done so. The light through the agency 
of which God sees Himself is due to the principle of 
difference in the nature of the Absolute Being itself. 
He recognizes this principle in the following verses : 

If you say that God is one you are right, 
But if you say that He is two this is also true. 
If you say, no, He is three, you are right ; 
For this is the real nature of man. 

What greater contact between Christianity and 
Islam could possibly be sought than the one herein 
provided? There is the longing, the search after 
Christ ; all that is required is faithfully to present 
Him before the hungry and thirsty souls and to 

Fifth Study Siraju V Din 1 87 

show that He whom they seek, the man perfect in 
life and deed, is not the one whom they have 
idealized against facts and who may in his own 
person disappoint them in the end, but that it is 
the Son of Man, who is the chief among ten 
thousand, the brightness of His Father's glory and 
the express image of His person. 


We shall content ourselves with two most im- 
portant points in this connexion. 

The first and foremost lesson of Islam to western 
Christianity and, in fact, of the East generally to 
the West (for Hinduism and Buddhism are also 
distinctly devotional) is that of the importance of 
devotional prayer life in the Protestant church. 
The East, where all religions originated, emphasizes 
the contemplative, the meditative life, the life 
hidden in God, the life of the groanings that 
cannot be uttered. The unduly speculative turn 
of the eastern mind is the outcome of the abuse 
not of the use of this exercise. What the peoples 
of the West and Christians in general need is more 
vision. Perhaps the greatest stumbling-block in 
Christendom at present is that of undue stress on 
materialism, the love of the mighty dollar, the sin 
of not discriminating between the values of things ; 
and the only remedy for this sin is to be found in 
divine communion. This will also be the remedy 

1 88 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

for most of the avoidable stumbling-blocks that 
we put in the way of the non -Christian world, as 
well as the unavoidable difficulties that come in the 
way of the seeker after truth. An educated and 
respectable Indian Christian who on the eve of 
his retirement from government service became a 
Roman Catholic, expressed a desire to live close to 
the Catholic chapel in order that his daily devotions 
might not be neglected. The earnest-minded 
Mohammedan when he approaches Christianity with 
an unprejudiced mind is more or less satisfied and 
even pleased with the practical side of the individual, 
the family and the social life of the average Pro- 
testant Christian, but he feels the absence of the 
devotional aspect. We are asked to pray always 
and not only five times in the day ; should not the 
time spent by us in daily communion at least com- 
pare favourably with the Mohammedan's devotional 
time in duration? Or rather, do we cultivate the 
habit of realizing the presence of God sufficiently 
to enable us to live in that constant atmosphere of 
prayer which our religion and profession demand ? 

In the second place, the life and history of Islam 
afford the strongest psychological argument and the 
mightiest historical proof of the inmost irrepressible 
yearning of the human heart after Christ. The 
mighty religion that came into existence with one 
of its avowed objects that of stamping out the idea 
of the deification of Christ or any man whatsoever, 

Fifth Study Sir aju V Djn 189 

not only ended in doing the same thing with its 
Prophet and its saints, but it has, from the very 
start and throughout the thirteen centuries of its 
existence, had to yield to a strong current of anti- 
Islamic pro-Christian tendency to seek for a divine- 
human mediator, without which its own strong 
grip on millions would have been greatly slackened, 
if not its very existence threatened with premature 
decay. We cannot do better than let this truth 
be expressed in the words of a learned Indian 
Mohammedan, now a barrister-at-law and a doctor 
of philosophy, from whose article on the ' Perfect 
Man 1 we have already quoted and who seems to 
have been not far from the kingdom of God when 
he wrote these words : 

We have now the doctrine of the Perfect Man com- 
pleted. All through the author has maintained his 
argumentation by an appeal to different verses of the 
Koran and to the several traditions of the Prophet, 
the authenticity of which he never doubts. Although 
he reproduces the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, 
except that his God-man is Mohammed instead of 
Christ, he never alludes to his having been ever 
influenced by Christian theology. He looks upon the 
doctrine as something common between the two forms 
of religion, and accuses Christians of a blasphemous 
interpretation of the doctrine by regarding the 
personality of God as split up into three distinct 
personalities. Our own belief, however, is that this 
splendid doctrine has not been well understood by 
the majority of Islamic and even Christian thinkers. 

1 90 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

The doctrine is but another way of stating the truth 
that the absolute unity must have in itself a principle 
of difference in order to evolve diversity out of itself. 
Almost all the attacks of Mohammedan theologians 
are directed against vulgar beliefs, while the truth of 
real Christianity has not sufficiently been recognized. 
Although the author accuses Christians of a very 
serious misunderstanding, yet he regards their sin as 
venial, holding that their shirk (the splitting up of 
the divine personality) is the essence of all Tauhid or 
Unity. I believe no Islamic thinker will object to 
the deep meaning of the Trinity as explained by this 
author or will hesitate in approving Kant's inter- 
pretation of the doctrine of redemption. Sheikh 
Muhaiyu'd Dm Ibn i f Arabi says that the error of 
Christianity does not lie in making Christ God, but 
that it lies in making God Christ. 

In summing up his doctrine of the Perfect Man, 
the Mohammedan writer referred to above rejoices 
over the fact that his author is the triumphant 
possessor of the deep metaphysical meaning of the 
Trinity, and he has every right so to rejoice, for 
in this author we are inclined to perceive the 
St. Paul of Christianity in Islam. How much 
more should we rejoice to find Islam, the most 
Unitarian of all religions and the mightiest avowed 
antagonist of the conception of the God-man and 
of the Trinity, drawing its deepest inspiration from 
these conceptions, in spite of itself. But above all, 
we should rejoice that we are the possessors of 
the reality and the fundamental source of the 

Fifth Study Siraju 'd Djtt igi 

Trinity, the incarnation, the mediatorship namely, 
Christ Jesus the crucified Mediator, who by His 
cross and resurrection is able to draw all Moham- 
medans to Himself, through us who are the 
responsible custodians of this most precious of 


By the Rev. Canon GODFREY DALE, Universities' 
Mission to Central Africa ; Zanzibar. 


By the Rev. Canon GODFREY DALE 

IT is the object of these papers that each contributor 
should answer the same questions, but with as much 
local colouring as possible; therefore it must be 
clearly understood that what is stated refers to 
particular circumstances only, and the opinions 
expressed are the result of personal experience 
under these particular circumstances. The general 
history and features of East African Islam are too 
well known to need restatement. Let it suffice 
to say that within the memory of the present 
generation East Africa had scarcely come into 
contact with western civilization and western 
thought. It is probable that in Zanzibar there 
existed a Mohammedanism nearer to the original 
than that existing in countries in which western 
thought had influenced the Mohammedan world. 
So much then by way of introduction. 


For the purpose of this paper it is well to explain 
the meaning attached by the writer to the ex- 


1 96 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

pression 'vital forces.' It is taken to mean those 
religious forces in Islam which a Christian missionary 
can make use of as a stepping-stone to the Christian 
faith, because not antagonistic to the spirit of his 
own religion. 

In Zanzibar and those parts of East Africa 
known to the writer by personal experience or from 
trustworthy information Mohammedanism seems to 
possess vital forces in the following respects. 

Mohammedanism has a very real sense of the 
existence and unity of God, of the divine govern- 
ment of the universe, of the providential control 
over the little details of everyday life. The constant 
repetition of such phrases as in sha Allah, ma sha 
Allah, and alhamdu lYllak shows that even the 
more ignorant Moslems in East Africa have this 
sense of a providential control of each particular 
life. The inscriptions on their houses, the religious 
element introduced into former heathen customs, 
the religious significance attached to the principal 
events of everyday life birth, marriage, sickness, 
death testify to this. To the ordinary African, 
with his idea of a far-away God who takes little 
notice of and little interest in the lives of men, 
a creed which attaches the thought of God to such 
common actions as washing, dressing, or eating 
makes God near and real, and must prove attractive. 
In ordinary conversation with an East African who 
has become a Mohammedan it is very noticeable 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 197 

how thoroughly he has adapted his thoughts to 
this new way of regarding himself and the circum- 
stances of his daily life. 

And equally attractive is the corporate side of 
the religious life. The religious dances, the religious 
fasts and festivals, the general interest taken in 
them by Moslems of all classes, the way in which 
a Moslem qua Moslem is regarded as having a 
claim on others of his faith where his faith is 
concerned, the intense excitement caused if one 
Moslem of sufficient standing becomes a convert 
to Christianity, the way in which the recent wars 
with Turkey have sent a thrill throughout the 
Moslem population in a remote place like Zanzibar 
all these facts point to a corporate sense which 
is vital, for they show how a common faith, strongly 
held, binds its adherents into one body, so that if 
one member suffers or rejoices all the other members 
suffer or rejoice with it. 

Another vital element is the importance of re- 
ligious education in the eyes of the Mohammedan 
world. Hence the numerous Koran schools in 
Zanzibar and Pemba. Even when the Koran is 
taught in the government school, men prefer that 
their sons should learn the Koran at home first. 
The Koran to them is the book of God and as such 
deserving of study above all other books. And 
though it is true that very few know sufficient 
Arabic to reap any real benefit or knowledge from 

198 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

such study, yet the principle is generally recognized. 
To them religious education is of the first import- 
ance, and they realize that if a religion is believed 
to be true it is incumbent on the professors of that 
religion to direct and control their life and their 
calling in life according to the principles of that 
religion. They have a political and ecclesiastical 
constitution which they regard as based on religious 
principles. They have told me again and again 
how surprised they are to find a Christian judge 
deciding a case of law without reference to the 
Injll or to some generally accepted interpretation 
of the Christian scriptures. We can have no quarrel 
with them for thus emphasizing the importance of 
religious education, or the part which religion ought 
to play in the affairs of life. The action of modern 
governments in the matter of divorce sets the 
Christian world thinking in this connexion. We 
wish they would follow the Injll. 

Again, even if we keep in mind the fact that 
religious practices such as prayer, fasting, and 
almsgiving are too much associated in the mind 
of the Moslem with the idea of wages earned for 
so much work done, an idea not at all in keeping 
with the spirit of Christianity, yet there can 
be no doubt, surely, that the habit of connecting 
the present life with the life of the world to come 
by such religious exercises is a gain in countries 
where the idea of the vital connexion between 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 199 

the two worlds has been of the very vaguest kind 

And not to dwell too long on only one question 
the two ideas of the transcendence of God and 
the sovereignty of the divine will, grossly abused as 
both ideas are in the minds of the general folk, 
contain in them the essence of all true awe and 
wonder and adoration on the one hand and resigna- 
tion and obedience on the other. 


Of course the writer here is strictly confined to 
his own experience. I record mine for what it is 
worth. There are a few specific points concerning 
which I have detected signs of uneasiness. 

First, slavery. On at least two occasions when 
discussing slavery with intelligent and well educated 
Mohammedans, admissions have been frankly made 
that the present Mohammedan law on the subject 
(say in the Minhqj) is inconsistent with the principle 
of justice that you must not do to another what you 
would not like done to yourself, and that slavery 
conflicts with an orthodox tradition which places 
these very words in the mouth of Mohammed. 
They see that the logical application of the law of 
slavery, when applied to the circumstances of every- 
day life, does lead to consequences which the moral 
sense common to all mankind must condemn. 

2OO Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

So again with polygamy and concubinage. Again 
and again in the course of ordinary conversation 
have I detected signs of dissatisfaction and listened 
to frank admissions that the actual results of 
polygamy are bad, that polygamy is constantly the 
cause of the breaking up of the peace of domestic 
life, that it leads to perpetual jealousies and often to 
deadly crimes. They begin to see that facilities of 
divorce are an encouragement to unfaithfulness, and 
that the children of different wives, on the decease of 
the father, not rarely engage in bitter disputes as to 
inheritance, disputes which create scandal and give 
rise to family feuds. And I have heard statements 
from people of very different ranks in life which 
show that at least a few are beginning to recognize 
the beauty of the Christian teaching of faithfulness 
to one wife until death. They have admitted 
again and again that, whatever the cause may be, 
it is unquestionable that Islam in this part of the 
world has failed to produce a type of womankind 
that could be safely allowed the freedom of the 
Christian woman. 

At the back of the minds of some of the best and 
most thoughtful there is some questioning as to 
the nature of the divine forgiveness, as to the reality 
of a forgiveness which is largely divorced from 
moral considerations, which, as taught and believed 
by the general folk, rests upon the arbitrary caprice 
of One whom they regard in the light of an absolute 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 201 

despot. One Moslem who believed that God is 
merciful and compassionate, and who, I believe, 
was sincere, expressed to me his dissatisfaction with 
a faith which gave no outward and visible sign of 
forgiveness, which left him in a state of uncertainty 
as to whether he was forgiven or not. He wanted 
to know whether there was an assurance of forgive- 
ness in the Christian faith and whether there were 
any definite means by which such forgiveness could 
be secured. 

Mohammedans are willing to admit the practical 
difficulties of fatalism. Again and again you hear 
from their lips the baldest statements which seem 
to convey the idea that they have no sense of moral 
responsibility at all, and yet in their heart of hearts 
they are not satisfied. Conscience makes cowards 
of them as of other people, and it is not difficult to 
draw from them admissions which show that their 
belief in fatalism is of the intellect only, not of the 

With regard to compulsion in matters of faith, 
Moslems have often admitted to me that compulsion 
is a poor and unsafe method of gaining converts 
to their faith. They consent at once to the words 
of the Koran, ' There is no compulsion in religion,' 
but then few of them are sufficiently learned to 
reply that the words have been abrogated by the 
verse of the Sword. It is a very interesting experi- 
ment to relate the parable of the tares and then 

202 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

listen to their comments on the words 'Let both 
grow together until the harvest.' 

With regard to the Koran, and the life of 
Mohammed considered as the great exemplar, we 
are on very delicate ground. As to the Koran, I 
have noticed uneasiness as to the scientific state- 
ments in it. Their belief in the literal inspiration 
of the Koran prevents them from saying that the 
science of the Koran is the science of the Arabs of 
the sixth or seventh centuries. Their theory of the 
origin of the Koran binds them hand and foot, yet 
even here in Zanzibar, where education in the 
modern sense is in its infancy, signs of inward 
questioning have not been wanting. 

With regard to the example set by Mohammed, 
they are ready to condemn certain actions performed 
by him, if these actions are stripped of their original 
surroundings and presented to them hypothetically 
as the actions of any other man. But as all those 
who are acquainted with the Moslem know, if 
you say ' Mohammed did what you condemn,' the 
reply would be that any action whatsoever performed 
by Mohammed after his call to the prophetic office 
was performed by divine permission and therefore 
lawful to him, even if unlawful for any one else. 
We may well ask if this reply really satisfies the 
hearer whose moral sense is not completely 

It must be clearly understood that such dis- 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 203 

satisfaction as that referred to here is the rare 
exception. It is very far from the intention of 
the writer to suggest that there is any marked 
sign that the self-complacency of the Moslem world 
with regard to Mohammedanism has suffered any 
serious shock in Zanzibar at present. 


There is very little evidence that there is any- 
thing on the dogmatic side of Christianity which 
attracts the Mohammedan other than those elements 
of Christianity which have been incorporated into 
the Koran. It has been observed that teaching 
concerning the love of God, or the Christian belief 
in the fatherliness of God (if disconnected from the 
doctrine of the Incarnation), and teaching as to the 
power of grace inherent in Christianity to lift a 
man out of himself to a higher moral level and 
to empower him freely to conform to the divine 
will, are listened to with interest. The Sonship of 
Christ is as repugnant to them as ever and the 
Incarnation as inconceivable, but statements which 
represent the dealings of Almighty God with the 
individual soul as conducted on the lines according 
to which a good father deals with his children 
receive general acceptance in my experience. This 
leads on to the conception of God as perfect love, 
and is no doubt a gain. 

2O4 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

There is no doubt whatever that the Christian 
character, wherever they see it manifested, does 
attract them powerfully. Those most hostile to 
us fear the power of its attraction, fear for the 
faith of their co-religionists who are brought into 
touch with it. The lives of the doctors and nurses 
in the hospital, the Christian patience and ease of 
Christian teachers in the schools, the courtesy and 
gentleness and good temper of the Christian contro- 
versialist in the streets and the bazaars, and the 
sincerity of Christian devotion wherever it exists, 
these attract as they always have and always will. 
Again and again has this been proved. It is within 
the power of any Christian in any part of the 
Moslem world thus to multiply the evidences of 

The teaching of our Saviour and the history of 
His life attract if you do not start with statements 
which you know are unacceptable. It is astonishing 
how they consent to much of the teaching in the 
gospels. As prejudice mostly prevents them from 
reading the text of the gospel, it is possible that 
we can scarcely do any more valuable work than the 
work of familiarizing the minds of the Moslem 
population with the teaching of our Lord, trusting 
that in this way the moral and spiritual change will 
be effected which must precede acceptance of the 
profound truths of the Christian faith. 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 205 


There is a place for controversy, no doubt. We 
can scarcely read the passages in the gospels which 
tell of the attitude of the Jews to our Lord and 
His method of dealing with them, or read the 
account of the work of St. Paul and St. Stephen 
without concluding that there is a place for con- 
troversy in the Christian life. We must be ready 
to give an answer for the hope that is in us and 
earnestly to contend for the faith. But, in the 
main, such work is preparatory only, and serves 
its purpose best if it confines itself to removing 
misconceptions from the mind of the Moslem and 
giving clear and courteous statements of the evidence 
on which Christian beliefs rest. There can be no 
doubt that the deepest results are produced by the 
good fruits of the spirit of Christ. Truth and 
gentleness, patience, forbearance and courtesy, self- 
sacrifice, and spirituality in all its forms ; the work 
in the hospitals, the better treatment of prisoners, 
the freedom of the courts of justice from corruption, 
Christian domestic life at its best, the pains freely 
bestowed on the education of the young, the real 
interest taken by those who are in authority in 
the general welfare of those whom they govern 
all these are signs of practical Christianity and 
are having their effect in a quiet way. Not all, 

206 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

by any manner of means, but a considerable 
number of people are quite capable of drawing 
the right conclusion when the present condition 
of a place like Zanzibar is contrasted with its 
condition under the old regime. Those who 
suffered have not forgotten. 

The lives of the prophets and their teaching, 
together with the personal religion of the psalms, 
is common ground and affords a good opening 
for further teaching. Many of the psalms might 
have been written by a good Mohammedan. 
They are surprised to find how wholeheartedly 
they can be repeated by Christian and Moslem, 
e.g. psalms cvi., cxxxix. Then there is the life 
of our Lord, His parables, His miracles, the 
Sermon on the Mount. When the desired im- 
pression has been produced, we can give the 
stronger meat : the fatherhood of God, the Cruci- 
fixion, the Resurrection and Ascension, with the 
evidence, the cumulative evidence, for the belief 
that the life of Christ was the life of One for 
whom the names teacher, master, prophet proved 
to be inadequate in the eyes of those who knew 
Him best. It is probably preferable that the 
listeners should discover for themselves the difference 
in many points dogmatic and practical between 
the two religions. Listeners should be given 
plenty of time for reflection. The Christian's 
everyday life is the best commentary on and the 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 207 

best witness to the truths of Christian teaching and 
Christian principles. If you cast your bread upon 
the waters, you will find it, if only after many days. 


Here, unfortunately, there can be no hesitation 
about the answer to be given. In a pamphlet 
circulated in Zanzibar, which deals with the effect 
produced on Mohammedan scholars by Christian 
teaching in Christian schools, the author mentions 
twice the doctrines belief in which is, in his opinion, 
pernicious in its results. (1) Belief in the Holy 
Trinity, which he regards as totally subversive of 
all faith in the unity of God. (2) Belief in the 
divinity of our Lord and in the doctrine of the 
Incarnation. He cannot use words too strong in 
order to condemn the madness of people who can 
believe at one and the same time that Christ is 
God and that He ate and drank and slept and 
walked and rode, was weary and oppressed, suffered, 
was crucified and died. From some source or other 
the writer has heard of the blessed Sacrament, and 
has evidently read a more or less exact statement 
of the faith of the Church concerning it. Needless 
to say it is utterly incomprehensible to him. 
He cries with Nicodemus, only with less courtesy, 
'How can these things be?' Most of these ob- 
jections are of course stereotyped, and familiar 

208 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

to every one who has had any acquaintance with 
Mohammedans. The Mohammedan controversialist 
is ever ready to plunge into the most profound 
doctrines ; and it is with difficulty that the Christian, 
even in a place like Zanzibar, can refuse to answer 
without appearing to the listeners to be unable to 
answer. Silence is misunderstood. Experience also 
has taught me that the passage quoted by Professor 
Siraju 'd Dm of Lahore 'that the error of Chris- 
tianity does not lie in making Christ God but that 
it lies in making God Christ ' is one that we shall 
do well to bear in mind. Some clear exposure of 
such a misconception is of first-rate importance. 
I have heard it urged against us. In practical life, 
the matter of swine's flesh and wine is often referred 
to, the former with most abhorrence, for the very 
good reason that a large number of Mohammedans, 
men and women, drink wine in this country. They 
confess to it. The impression left on my mind is 
that the sting has gone out of these kinds of 
taunts to a very large degree. 

It is difficult to see how the objections to the 
fundamental doctrines of Christianity can be removed 
until the faith of the Moslem in the Koran has 
been largely modified, because, as is generally 
known, the misconceptions and misstatements of 
these doctrines in the Koran are accepted on the 
ground of the infallibility of the Koran. The 
Koran stands or falls with them. 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 209 


I am not writing about the Arab. His char- 
acter has been described again and again by 
competent observers. Nor does the following refer 
to the Indian Moslem, of whom there are many 
in Zanzibar. What follows refers to the East 
African who has become a Moslem, and is, as 
such, distinct from the African pagan and the 
African Christian. 

Now if the rules which govern African domestic 
life are lax, those which govern the married life 
of the Moslem are laxer still, if we can judge by 
results. Divorce is rife and children very scarce. 
The effect on home life is not good. It is quite 
common to hear people of all sorts contrasting 
the simplicity of the African mainland people 
with the life and manners of the people of the 
coast. The coast man is not loved. If he has 
a stronger individuality and a more dignified 
manner than the native of the mainland, he has 
far more pride and self-satisfaction. He is nearly 
always a fatalist, often with a fatalism which 
paralyses his sense of moral responsibility. He is 
as coarse as the African native, but with a coarse- 
ness which is the more objectionable because 
associated in his mind with religious duties. He 
is superficial to a degree, external, formal and 

2 1 o Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

material, impervious to spiritual ideas. He is 
more honesl than truthful; when temperate, and 
not all Moslems are tempi-rale, he is temperate 
with the temperance \\liuh results from obedience 
to a positive prohibition and is not the result of 
an ethical principle intelligently accepted and 
willingly obeyed. The Koran he rarely under- 
stands. He is very superstitious. He is clean in 
his person, and can, if he likes, be courteous and 
hospitable. In dealing with him you are almost 
certain before long to desire to see some sign of 
the spirit of truth, and humility, and purity and 
love in a word, the spirit of Christ. They need 
Christ, and the saddest fact of all about them is 
that they do not seem to have the vaguest sense 
of their need of a saviour or a new birth. As 
with the IMiari.M-e of old, they think they see, 
therefore their sin remaineth. 


There are at least two ways in which Christianity 
is benefited by contact with Mohammedanism. In 
the first place, we realize the value of a religion 
like our own which responds to human needs 
which are left untouched by Mohammedanism ; 
and in the second place, contact with Moham- 
medanism does awaken the Christian to some 
elements in his own faith which perhaps, but for 
that contact, he would have forgotten, or which 

Sixth Study Godfrey Dale 2 1 1 

hitherto have had iiiKiiflirienl. influence on his life 
and character. Contact with Mohammedanism 
throw?, in In relief the value of certain ChriHtian 
beliefs, such OH the fatherhood of God, the freedom 
of the human will, the necessity of purity of 
heart, the need of a new birth and a new power 
to lift us up from our dead Helves to higher 
things, the freedom of the service of God, the 
need of the perfect life, truly sinless, the need 
of the teaching of the Cross with its tremendous 
emphasis on the sinfulness of sin, the necessity 
of the great gift of the Spirit of truth and 
holiness, the beauty of a faith the dominant force 
of which is love, the beauty of Christian home 
life, the spiritual nature of heavenly joys and the 
vision of the city of God. 'The city was pure 
gold/ Others could add to this list, no doubt, 
and add their testimony that daily contact with 
Mohammedanism has helped them to understand 
how fully the Good Physician knew what was in 
man, how perfectly the Good Shepherd has pro- 
vided for the wants of His disciples. 

Christianity has benefited by contact with 
Mohammedanism in another way. The Christian 
has been compelled to think out the exact meaning 
of his belief in the unity of God, and he has 
been forced to think out the idea of the tran- 
scendence of God. Some perhaps have discovered 
that their belief in the providential dealings of 

212 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

God has become vague and tinged with doubt. 
They have been startled into self-examination by 
the in sha Allah and the alhamdu IVllah of the 
Moslem ; they have been reminded that religion 
is a power that touches life at all points and at 
all times, and cannot be kept in a separate 
compartment of the mind ; that religious belief 
should be at the back of all justice and is the 
true foundation of all social and political relation- 
ships ; that our attitude and demeanour in a 
place of worship should not be that of an ill- 
bred boor or a too familiar child, but that the 
outward adoration of the body should bear witness 
to the inward adoration of the heart ; that there 
is nothing in the Christian religion that a man 
need be ashamed of in the presence of his fellow- 
men ; and that a man is never so clothed with 
true dignity as when he worships the Lord in the 
beauty of holiness. 


By Professor D. B. MACDONALD, D.D., Hartford 
Theological Seminary, U.S.A. 



By Professor D. B. MACDONALD 

IT is not now necessary to demonstrate that there 
are vital forces in Islam. The preceding papers in 
this series, all by men who are no mere theorists 
or book students but of long and intimate contact 
with the facts of Mohammedan life, have made 
that plain beyond all cavil. And it will even be 
seen, I think, that the closer in these writers has 
been their contact and the deeper has been their 
understanding, the fuller has been their apprecia- 
tion of the spiritual realities lying behind their 
subject. It is easy to see the superficialities of a 
religion its hypocrisies, formalities, inadequacies 
but it takes patience and sympathy to pierce under- 
neath it to the leading of the One Spirit and to 
find in its votaries, as we so often may, the anima 
naturaliter Christiana. 

I have no such claim to be heard as these writers 
can show. My personal contact with the East is 
measured by months and not by years. The sources 

on which, for my impressions, I must now draw are, 


2 1 6 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

on one side, the writings of Mohammedan theo- 
logians mystics, dogmaticians, philosophers and, 
on another side, that mare magnum of popular 
literature mirroring in the ideas and events of the 
lives of the masses the final results, working down 
into the common soul of Islam, of all those aspira- 
tions, constructions and dialectic searchings. Such 
books must always, for the home-staying student, 
take the place of contact with the Moslem world 
itself, and the best known of them all is, of course, 
the Arabian Nights. They do not mislead nor 
misinform, as does that contact so of ben until it is 
controlled, and as still oftener do books of travel, 
and I would bear my testimony now that when I 
did meet the Moslem world face to face, the picture 
of its workings and ideas and usages which I had 
gained from these romances, poems and religious 
tales needed modification in no essential point 
almost, even, in no detail. I need hardly add that 
to attain this result complete texts must be read. 
Islam must be taken as it is; otherwise it is not 

But how, to such an onlooker, does the situation 
present itself? Broadly, I am in agreement with 
all that has preceded in these papers on the religious 
life in Islam. It is needless here to rehearse the 
details. On two elements only in that life, and 
these paradoxically confronting one another, I would 
feel like laying more stress. First, the prayer- 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 217 

meetings of the dervishes, the so-called dhikrs or 
zikrs, and all the emotional religious life of which 
these are the public and concerted expression. Only 
those, on the one hand, who minimize the part 
which religion plays in life can disregard these its 
normal vehicles. And only those, on the other, 
who have actually, and with open mind and heart, 
witnessed these acts of worship and, still more, have 
talked soul to soul with men who have felt these 
influences personally and could describe them only 
these can really weigh how enormous a part they 
hold in stimulating, deepening and purifying the 
religious consciousness. Undoubtedly there lie in 
them also great dangers. All manifestations of 
religious emotion are surrounded with possibilities 
of hypocrisy, self-delusion and abandonment of self- 
control. But those who know the theological 
literature of Islam will remember how elaborately 
its clearest and most spiritual minds have dealt 
with these dangers, and those who have witnessed 
a dhikr with any understanding must have seen 
how completely the presiding shaikh was controlling 
all the manifestations and steadying the thoughts 
of the worshippers who were taking part. Of course 
this takes no account of the public and spectacular 
dhikrs either got up for tourists or connected, like 
those at the display of the kiswa embroideries in 
Cairo, with the great formal ceremonies of the 
faith. These can be utterly empty of religious 

2 1 8 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

content and mislead as to the real nature of what 
they travesty, which is a coming together of earnest 
minds to worship Allah in spirit and in truth. Of 
such I do not speak here. 

Nor can it be said that, in spite of all the care, 
theoretical and practical, of theologians and leaders, 
dhikrs never have evil consequences. They most 
unfortunately have. No one can play with his 
emotional life without risk of acquiring the knack 
of auto-hypnosis; and, if of a weaker nature, 
practising it as a spiritual dram-drinking. The 
risks are there and are real, and the consequences 
sometimes follow. But, however that may be, the 
importance of the dhikr as a vehicle of the religious 
life cannot be exaggerated, and it might be well 
for missionaries to consider to what extent and in 
what forms it could be taken over into Christian 
worship for the use of their converts or as a means 
of evangelizing. That converts from Islam miss 
its stimulus and suggestion is certain, and the sing- 
ing of hymns especially to western tunes and in 
western metres cannot take its place. This leads 
naturally into a large subject, a discussion of which 
cannot be attempted here. Briefly it is that the 
Christian Church will need to face the problem of 
the full orientalizing and arabizing of its language 
and forms of expression. Far too often these are 
stamped by Moslems as un- Arabic, and of necessity 
they cause an initial repulsion which has to be 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 219 

overcome. Even the native Christian Arabic of 
Syria repels a Moslem, though he might often find 
it hard to say against exactly what turn of phrase 
his objection lies. But the naturalizing of the 
dhikr for Christian purposes is a much wider matter 
than any mere use of words, and involves deeper 
difficulties. I would only now most earnestly 
commend the consideration of it to all in any way 

With the dhiJcr connects immediately another 
Moslem usage. It is the reciting of the Most 
Beautiful Names of Allah. This, also, has its two 
sides, a formally empty and a personally devout, 
and at the first of these, unfortunately, most 
observers of Islam stop. But the nourishing of the 
religious life on the contemplation of God is an 
essential part of all religions, and that con- 
templation has, from the very beginnings of Islam, 
moved round the names and epithets applied and 
applicable to Allah. From the Sunday school books 
and Bible helps of our youth before it was thought 
that religion consisted in the higher criticism we 
used to learn lists of names, offices and epithets of 
Christ, as these could be extracted from the Bible. 
A similar method has held in Islam from Mohammed 
himself down, and is indeed rooted in the very 
genius of the Arabic language. So, in the Koran, 
as in the old poetry of the desert, the rolling 
rhythms are rounded with sonorous epithets, and 

220 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

the midnight devotions of Mohammed consisted 
in describing Allah as this and that. 1 The after 
generations have followed in his path, and from the 
fixed, stately ceremonial of the salat, through the 
freer and more spontaneous, yet also governed and 
restrained, ejaculations of the dhikr to the daily and 
hourly meditations of the pious, all the forms of 
expression are cast in this mould. Thus an immense 
number of names has been brought together, either 
found in the Koran or developed from Koranic ideas, 
and out of these a canonical ninety-nine have been 
selected which are called the Most Beautiful Names 
of Allah. These the pious recite in a fixed order as 
they slip the ninety-nine beads of the Moslem rosary 
through their fingers, though the wayfaring man 
may content himself with simply murmuring, * Allah, 
Allah, Allah ! ' 

There lies here, I am certain, a wide field which 
the judicious missionary will know how to occupy. 
When some shaikh, after discussion, says to him, 
' Nay, brother, tell me some of your Most Beautiful 
Names and I will tell you some of mine,' he will put 
into such name-form some of the spiritual depths 
of the Bible, and thus, without controversy or even 
any sense of strangeness, lead his friend into the 

1 It may be pointed out that the only basis on which to 
work out a doctrine of the nature of Allah, as developed in 
the Koran, is to be found in these names. See the article 
* Allah' in the Leyden Encyclopaedia of Mohammedanism. 

Ssventh Study D. B. Macdonald 221 

range of Christian ideas. ' We say of God,' he may 
reply, or 'In our Book stands written that He is 
this or that.' To have a store of such names in 
his memory, cast in impeccable Arabic, of a rather 
' high ' type and impeccable not only in form but 
in that indefinable thing called linguistic atmosphere, 
should be the ambition of every missionary. It is 
true that some doctrines by no amount of outward 
form or atmosphere can be rendered anything but 
strange and repellent to the Moslem ; but it is equally 
certain that there are many sides of the religious 
life where the wealth of religious experience in the 
Bible may vindicate itself over the poverty and 
onesidedness of the Koran and yet excite no surprise 
and raise no controversy. 

This distinction is illustrated in the other element 
in the religious life of Islam to which I wish to draw 
attention. By no form nor atmosphere, save, as we 
shall see, that created by the Divine Figure Itself 
and for Itself, can the conception of Fatherhood and 
Sonship between God and man be rendered anything 
but repellent, even blasphemous, to a Moslem. This 
applies not only to the doctrine of the divine Sonship, 
but also to every relationship between God and 
man not specifically of Creator and created. With 
Moslems there is no such point of contact as St. 
Paul found in the verse of the Greek poet, ' For we 
are also his children.' Apparently, Mohammed 
wished to deal with the question of sonship root 

222 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

and branch. Allah in the Koran is never a father 
and men are never His sons. And the same holds 
of the traditions from Mohammed and of all the 
after religious development. The Church of Allah 
never consists of His children and no saint in his 
ecstasy ever heard himself addressed as 'My son.' 
Men are the slaves of Allah, His absolute property to 
do with as He wills. For while the human owner 
of a slave is under certain legal restraints and has 
certain legal duties towards him, such can never 
hold of Allah. The Pauline example of the potter 
and the vessels is applied even in the devotional 
life of Islam with the most unflinching logic. It is 
unfortunate that our translations too often weaken 
this by rendering 'abd not as * slave ' but ' servant. 1 
In this they follow a similar mistranslation of e ebed 
in the Old Testament and are influenced by a feeling 
of recoil from all its implications. But the theology 
of Islam does not so recoil and no implications turn 
its serene inhumanity. The absoluteness of Allah 
over everything is preserved and that absoluteness, 
be it noticed, is no creation of the later dogma- 
ticians, but was fully developed in at least one side 
of Mohammed's brain. 

For precisely here lies the eternal paradox of 
Islam, a paradox which has led to endless contro- 
versy in Islam within and among those studying it 
from without ; but both sides of which are absolutely 
true. Islam is a spiritual religion and knows the 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 223 

relation in the spirit between God and man. Thus 
devotion is possible for it, and the dhikr and all the 
experiences of the saint whose life is hidden in God. 
But Islam is also Calvinism run wild, outdoing all 
the vagaries of the most outrd Dutch Confessions. 
And this paradox goes back to Mohammed himself. 
On one side he was a genuine saint with genuine 
religious experiences ; but on another his theology, 
whence derived is still one of our puzzles, was un- 
compromising as to the absoluteness of Allah, both 
of His will and power and of His difference from 
all other beings. So all the way down through 
the history of the Moslem Church and in the lives 
of individual Moslems, we find this ever-renewed 
opposition between the experience of the religious 
life and the systems derived from dogmas. The 
orthodox Moslem had to square them in one way 
or another and commonly did so by keeping them 
apart and by urging and developing now one and 
now the other. By his own experience and the 
record of that of others, including Mohammed 
himself, he had his real religion, and so long as 
that remained unsystematized and in the realm of 
feeling, the fundamental dogmas of his faith did 
not trouble him. But if either to defend that 
faith against unbelievers without or critics within, 
or simply to state it in definite form he had to 
bring the two into contact, then the unyielding 
theological system normally asserted itself, and his 

224 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

religion became a theology of the most closely 
argued, invulnerable, but also impossible type. To 
bring the two into a real agreement meant heresy 
sooner or later. Some attempted it by dint of 
metaphysical speculation and, removed in these 
clouds from common sight, span ontological and 
cosmological hypotheses of more or less explicit 
and conscious pantheism. Echoes, too, from these 
systems tended to filter through even to the 
multitude. In the dervish fraternities were and are 
men at all stages of theological and philosophical 
growth, and so for the unlearned and the half- 
learned the too glaring contrast might be helped 
by some phrase or some fragment of an idea. And 
always there was the refuge of turning and flinging 
themselves in adoration before the mystery. So the 
life of Islam continued and continues to be possible, 
and at one time the missionary will be faced by 
depths of devout quietism and at another by a fully 
armed monster of logic in which he will find it hard 
to recognize any religion at all. 

But whatever be the form before him, he will 
discover one kind of phrase that he can never use 
unless he would be met by more or less gentle 
negation. ' Our Father which art in heaven ' and 
' Like as a father pitieth his children ' these words 
suggest to us the most irreducible minimum of a 
religious attitude. Men of all faiths, we imagine, 
might join in using them. But the denial of them 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 225 

has passed into Moslem blood and bone, and the 
Mohammedan sees in them indefinite vistas of 
controversy. However close he may feel to Allah 
he stands always in His presence as an 6 abd. Yet 
it should never be forgotten that, for an Oriental, 
behind the word 6 abd, 6 slave,' some approximation 
to the idea of child may lie. All depends upon 
how it is used. The Moslem ' slave ' like the 
4 slave ' of the Old Testament is the property of 
his master; but he is also one of his master's 
household, under his master's care and may even be 
the heir of all that his master has. Thus, in the 
devotional literature of Islam, the word is often 
used where we find it hard or impossible to translate 
it as 'slave,' so different are, to us, the ideas and 
images which the words raise. Very frequently 
6 creature ' comes much closer to the burden of the 
context, and though theology may emphasize the 
absoluteness of the divine control, religion always 
pleads the closeness of the human relation. 

It will thus be seen that the idea before which 
the Moslem, even in his religious aspirations, recoils 
is that of generation. The article in the creed, 
' Begotten not made,' however rendered in Arabic 
and the current rendering is one of crude directness 
must always be the essential stumbling-block. 
Whether it would have been possible to maintain 
the Christian verity while expressing the relation of 
the Son to the Father as a Procession is probably 

226 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

now a useless speculation; it would certainly have 
made the Christian position much easier for the 
Moslem. To the conception of an inner multi- 
plicity in the nature of God Islam has, though 
always finally rejecting it, from time to time 
approximated. But while the representation of the 
coming into being of such a multiplicity by an 
eternal ' procession ' (sudur) has been rejected by 
Islam as only heretical, any connexion of such a 
multiplicity with fatherhood has never been con- 
ceived of in any but the simplest physical fashion 
and has, consequently, been viewed with horror. 
To some aspects of this I will return. 

What has now been said brings us, then, back to 
the question which must ever be primary, How can 
Christ be best preached to Moslems ? We have to 
take them as we find them even as Paul took the 
Athenians and present the body of Christian truth 
so as to meet and complete their strivings. There 
are certain vital forces working in Islam ; there is 
a great vital force working in Christendom. How 
can we bring that force which is Christ to bear 
on those forces which are the workings and yearnings 
of the human spirit fostered and guided, as we must 
believe, by that Divine Spirit which has never left 
itself without a witness within us ? These strivings 
within Islam have been variously coloured, biassed 
and stunted by Islam itself with its strange inherit- 
ance from we know not what Christian heresy. 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 227 

And it is there, in these imposed modifications, that 
the taking of Moslems as we find them enters. 
What do they, as Moslems, think of Christ ? How 
far are they on the road towards Him ? How does 
the thought of Him, if at all, already affect them ? 
To that I wish now to turn. 

So far as these questions are theological, the 
answer to them is easy ; so far as they are religious, it 
is very difficult. The Moslem doctrine of the nature 
of Christ can be put in half a dozen sentences. 
He is a semi-angelic semi-human being, but of 
sinless flesh and nature ; a new creation by Allah 
springing from Allah's direct creative word as did 
Adam and hence called a Word from Allah, and 
even the Word of Allah. But He is also specifically 
called an 6 aM 9 a creature. His mother was also 
conceived without sin in order that even on the 
human side He might have no taint of inheritance. 
He is called a Spirit from Allah and even the Spirit 
of Allah, just as are the angels. His life on earth 
was surrounded with miracle and in His birth-body 
Allah took Him to one of the heavens where He 
now is and whence He shall come to rule the world 
in the last days. But the eternal Sonship is rejected 
with the death on the cross, the resurrection and 
rule at God's right hand. Nor does He return to 
judge the quick and the dead. In fact, the Islamic 
doctrine leaves us questioning why this semi-angelic 
being came to earth at all. Some positive element 

228 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

must have been dropped by Mohammed from the 
system which was taught to him. Jesus in it was 
evidently a second Adam, but His theological re- 
lationship to the first has vanished. He must have 
been sent for a purpose; that, too, has vanished. 
The missionary might ask some arousing questions 
on these points. He might ask, too, what was 
involved in His being a special manifestation in 
time of the eternal Word of Allah. It may be 
answered that all things are products of Allah's 
creative Word. But in the case of Jesus stress is 
laid upon a certain uniqueness what was it ? Up 
to a certain point Islamic doctrine leads straight to 
a Logos conception of the nature of Christ ; but at 
that point it stops sharply. 

Yet the Logos idea has found an entrance into 
Islamic theology, and that in two forms. The 
doctrine concerning the Koran is that it represents 
upon earth the Word or Speech (Kaldm) which has 
been with Allah from all eternity, by which He 
made the worlds. This, it may be said roughly, is 
our Nicene form of the Logos doctrine. On the 
other hand, the Arian form appears in the doctrine 
of the person of Mohammed. He is the first of all 
created beings, and for his sake the worlds were 
created. Both of these ideas are exceedingly vital 
forces in Islam to-day and show the craving of the 
human mind for some such mediating conception 
some link between God and man. Thus reformers 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 229 

in Islam now tend to rally to one or other of two 
cries : either, ' Back to the Koran ! ' or ' Back to 
Mohammed ! ' 

Urging to the first cry are many forces. For all 
Arabic speakers, the Koran is peculiarly their book. 
It is the supreme flowering of the genius of the 
language. No criticism of it by an outsider is ever 
heard with patience. And, in truth, there are in 
it, here and there, passages of haunting music. 
Mohammed, it should never be forgotten, was a 
poet of the primitive, incoherent, ecstatic type 
before he was a prophet. So its cadences still 
intoxicate and endless repetitions have not staled 
its melodies. In the ears of the Moslem, schooled 
in them from infancy, they constantly ring, and the 
book witnesses to itself of its uniqueness. And 
when to this is added that it is a divine book ; that 
in it Allah speaks to man as with His own speech, 
a Quality of His from all eternity the theological 
statements of this vary but such is their substance 
then that the Koran should be a rallying point 
for all Moslems is easily intelligible. The life of 
Mohammed, the bearer, may be smirched; but 
the divine Word abides untouchable. Patriotism, 
beauty, habit, faith, all unite to protect it. In 
face of this a most vital fact with all, especially 
with educated Moslems I can only repeat what I 
have said above, that a heavy burden of duty lies 
on all concerned to see that the Christian message 

2 3 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

is clad in a garb that will do it no discredit ; that 
the supreme magic for the Arabic-speaking peoples 
and by their proverb a lawful magic the magic 
of language, is not disregarded. 

But to the more emotional and less educated 
Moslems, especially to those who, born in non- 
Arabic lands, cannot so intoxicate themselves on 
the rhythms of the book of the Arabs, the more 
human interest of the figure of Mohammed himself 
appeals. And so it has come about that he is often 
practically deified, however contrary to exact Islam 
and to the Prophet's own declarations such an 
apotheosis may be. It is a question of tempera- 
ment and environment, and the missionary need 
not be surprised at any form he may meet and 
must not think that the doctrine of his district is 
universal Islam. We have had our time of 
bibliolatry, and we have now, apparently, a time 
of speaking of Jesus and addressing Him in prayer 
as though He were the only person in the Godhead. 
These Moslem vagaries should lead us to be only 
the more careful as to the forms of our theological 
statements. We sometimes think we can get along 
without a theology and upon religious experience 
alone. Theology thus cast out avenges itself by 
coming back in perverted forms. 

But I return to the second and more difficult side 
of my question on the Moslem attitude towards 
Christ. What place does He hold religiously 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 231 

among them ? What part does He play in their 
lives? Is He in any respect a vital force there? 
I fear the answer must be that, for the great mass 
of Moslems, He is not. On that side there is little 
or nothing from which to begin. He does not even 
seem to have struck the popular imagination as has 
the mysterious al Khizr. He is theologically a 
similarly mysterious figure among the prophets, and 
if actual physical meetings with Him in this middle 
earth cannot be looked for by Moslems, as they look 
to meet al Khizr, visions of Him in dream might 
be expected. Yet the evidence is that these occur 
very rarely and almost only among dervishes and 
under peculiar and predisposing circumstances. It 
is true that there are certain stock anecdotes about 
Him current in theological books of edification. 
In these His unearthly, angelic nature appears. 
He possesses peculiarly the power of raising the 
dead. His words are of strange wisdom and His 
conduct is sinless, or rather, His life moves in a 
sphere in its nature apart from that of men. Gener- 
ally, it may be said that Islam, while acknowledging 
theologically His rank and treating Him at all 
times with great respect, does not seem in its 
religious or worldly need to turn towards Him. 
Under such stress it seeks its local saints or al 
Khizr or Mohammed himself, while ShPites, of 
course, turn to the Imams. In the Last Days he 
will play a large but undefined part with which the 

232 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

religious Moslem does not greatly trouble himself 
unless he aspires to be the Mahdi. Then he must 
determine what role falls to him and what to 'Isa. 

Yet in this, as in all phases of religion as opposed 
to theology, and especially in the religion of the 
masses, it is necessary to speak with caution. In 
Lady Burton's time at Damascus there arose among 
the Shadhilite dervishes a strange movement pro- 
duced by visions of Jesus. Further, the broader 
minded generally have shown a tendency to play 
Him off against Mohammed, by way of vindicating 
the universality of religion and the common value 
of all religions. This has occurred more among 
Turks and Persians and everywhere only among 
advanced mystics. It is possible also that in 
certain localities more closely connected with His 
earthly life such religious influence may be found. 
But I know of no evidence to that purport. Tales 
are, of course, told to tourists, notably that He 
and Mohammed will judge together at the Last 
Day, one on the one side and the other on the 
other of the valley of Kidron ; but these seem to 
be fictions of dragomans, and are at best too 
completely in the teeth of all sound doctrine to 
be at all widely current among Moslems. That, 
on that day, none shall judge save Allah Himself 
is a fundamental article of the faith. 

On another conception, to which attention has 
already been drawn in more than one of the 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 233 

preceding papers, I would wish to lay emphasis. 
There can be no question that there has existed 
and still exists, widespread among Moslems, a 
strong feeling of the need of a mediator, an inter- 
cessor between men and God. This has shown 
itself in the doctrine which has gradually grown 
up, apparently of necessity, and which is in the 
teeth of statements of Mohammed himself, that 
Mohammed will intercede for his people at the 
Last Day and secure their entrance as a whole 
into paradise. Only a single wretched man will 
be left outside to satisfy God^s justice and keep 
the letter of His threats. He is, as it were, a 
scapegoat, and his fate is a ghastly parody on 
some forms of the Christian doctrine of the Atone- 
ment. This is intercession on behalf of the people 
in general and, as such, belongs to Mohammed 
alone. No other prophet, even, has a right to it, 
and he only by the grace of Allah. 1 But all 
through the religious life of Islam runs the idea 
of intercession on behalf of individuals by indi- 
viduals who have acquired merit in the eyes of 
Allah. This is what lies behind and conditions 
the so-called 4 worship ' of saints, which is at bottom 

1 1 pass over the interesting word iuajih) applied once to 
Jesus in the Koran and explained by some commentators 
as meaning 'intercessor in the world to come.' It is of 
more importance for Mohammed's idea of Jesus than for 
the position of Jesus in Islam. 

234 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

prayer to them for the exertion of their personal 
influence with Allah. Among Shi'ites, as has been 
pointed out by one writer above, this has developed 
into a doctrine of a virtue lying in the shed blood 
of the slain Husain and his family. There is in 
it a specific claim upon Allah. But this is only 
a special case, sharpened by Sh?ite emotion, of a 
general Moslem attitude towards the sufferings of 
the saints. Theologically, Islam would never admit 
the doctrine of a treasury of merit ; for in it, no 
more than in Calvinism, can the human race by 
any possibility acquire or hold merit in the eyes 
of God. But religiously the idea certainly appears, 
and in the lives of the saints we find them again 
and again exercising flat pressure upon Allah. Of 
course there might be here some fine distinguishing 
between the ideas of influence with Allah as being 
the Friends of Allah (auliya) and rights over 
Allah, and theologians would undoubtedly draw 
such a distinction. But in the attitudes and ideas 
of the religious life it vanishes. 

To that strange book, al Insanctl kamil, with its 
approximations to Christian positions, allusion has 
also been made in a preceding paper, and it 
would be well if the book could have a more 
careful study than has yet fallen to it. But such 
phenomena keep appearing and disappearing in 
the multiform and almost inchoate mass of Sufi 
ideas. The human soul, when unbiassed by systems 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 235 

and prejudices, is naturally Christian, and such 
freedom has been the mark of Sufiism at all times. 
An outstanding example which all missionaries 
should study most carefully is given by the case 
of al Hallaj. The book upon him by M. Louis 
Massignon marks an epoch in our understanding 
of earlier Moslem mysticism. 

We come back, then, again to our question. All 
things being so, how can Christ be best preached 
to Moslems? Almost one is impelled to answer, 
Do not preach Him ; let Him Himself do His own 
work. If ever, it is face to face with Islam that 
the preaching of man is foolishness. The path to 
any formal presentation of Christian doctrine is 
sown with misunderstanding and prejudice. Yet 
the figure of Christ, simply presented as He lived 
and spoke, seems to overcome these. An experience 
which all, probably, who have worked among 
Moslems have had, abundantly proves this. I 
have spoken above of the Moslem horror before the 
idea of the divine paternity. But it is peculiarly 
in the Johannine writings that this ' begotten ' aspect 
of the Son is emphasized. Without these that word 
and its circle of ideas would probably have played 
a much smaller part in the development of Christian 
doctrine. And yet and to this I think all mission- 
aries will bear witness it is precisely the Gospel 
according to John which attracts and holds the 
Moslem who has become a seeker for something 

236 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

which his own religion cannot give him. It is 
true that such men are all mystics and that the 
mysticism of the book appeals to them. But it is the 
mystical atmosphere of the great Figure itself which 
overcomes and makes possible the words that are used. 
And even this very difficulty may be turned to 
account. In Philippians ii. 7, we read that He 
took the form of a slave, fiouXog an 6 abd, a 
'creature'; it is exactly the Koranic word for 
Jesus. Can we, then, with Moslems begin at 
that point ? Can we develop all that lies in that 
word fiovXog and recognize all that a Moslem 
thinks when he uses the word 6 abd ? A multitude 
of the most essential and germinative conceptions 
of Christianity connect with that aspect of Jesus, 
and they are those which Islam peculiarly needs. 
I do not develop them here. That has been done 
already in more than one of the preceding papers. 
Then, when that Figure in its human life of 
service and submission has once been brought 
clearly into view and stands up concrete and real 
with its testimony, its individual summons and 
its promise, its mysterious background of relation- 
ship to the Divine in time and in eternity will 
far more easily follow. All the Logos ideas of 
Islam can be related to it and thereby carried to 
their true measure and end. The Moslem will 
pass beyond that strange check which the Koran 
imposes, and will be able to connect with Christ 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 237 

those other stunted growths from the same stock 
which Islam has related to the Koran and to 
Mohammed. One forward step, especially, must 
be made. In dealing with the Speech or Word 
(Kalam) of Allah Islam has limited itself very 
carefully to one side only of the Logos con- 
ception. Its divine Logos is always oratio and 
no conception of ratio is allowed to enter. This 
is very marked and appears to spring from another 
conception fundamental to Islam, that Allah must 
be left a pure, unlimited Will unlimited even 
by any process of reason in Himself. That would 
subordinate Allah to something else and make His 
attitudes and acts less immediate and uncaused. 
Just as right and wrong depend upon His will, 
so He must be free also from the laws of thought. 
I do not remember ever having met with a precise 
statement of this; but it is involved in the care 
with which reason ( 6 aql) is kept out of all defini- 
tions and descriptions of Allah. But this, be it 
always remembered, is theology, and the religious 
life of experience, on the other hand, has to 
think and speak of Allah in terms of the aspects 
under which it has known Him. It should not, 
therefore, be difficult, at the cost of whatever 
metaphysical confusion, to reintroduce thought 
into the Moslem conception of the Divinity and 
so far break up that impossible Unity. The 
Word of Allah will cease to be a simple objectified 

238 Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam 

command (amr), like the Jewish Memra, and will 
again, like the older Hebrew Khokmah^ be that 
Wisdom in which and by which God does all 

I am very conscious that in what I have now 
said there is more of theology and less of vital 
experience than the title of this series of articles 
would seem to demand. Yet that has sprung 
from the very nature of the case. I am a student 
of Moslem theology ; but only an onlooker upon 
Moslem life. Lest any, however, should mistake 
my attitude in the broad matter, let me now 
finally state some practical propositions which 
seem to me essential. I trust that missionaries 
will forgive an outsider if he casts these, for 
directness, in imperative form. 

(1) As much as is in any way possible let the 
Bible, and especially the figure of Christ in the 
gospels, speak for themselves. 

(2) As much as is in any way possible avoid 
controversy, however friendly. Turn it with an 
answer which will show that Christianity too has 
beneath it a reasoned metaphysical system. 

(3) As much as is in any way possible cultivate 
religious conversation with Moslems and try to 
understand their religious life. The reading of 
their devotional and mystical books will greatly 
help in this. 

(4) As much as is in any way possible study 

Seventh Study D. B. Macdonald 239 

the theological system of Islam in the treatises of 
its theologians. 

(5) Be thus prepared, when the genuine inquirer 
who has been attracted by Christ and has read 
the Bible brings forward theological difficulties, 
to understand these and his mind in general and 
to enter most fully into theological subtleties. 
To us they may seem unreal ; to him, with his 
training, they are vital. 

(6) Never be surprised at the doctrine or the 
aspect of Christianity which seems most to appeal 
to any individual Moslem. He must begin where 
he can. Avoid, therefore, fixed ' easy methods.' 
I knew one man who became a sincere Christian 
with a real grasp of Christian doctrine and who 
began by being impressed with the historical 
continuity of the books of Samuel and Kings. 
Above all, do not think that there must be a 
theological sense of sin. Many Moslems find rest 
in Christ as a solution of the problems of the 
world and of the mystery of the universe. Their 
Christ is cosmic, but none the less real. 


Ablutions, 28, 87, 169. 

Al Bukhari, 18, 182. 

Al Ghazzali, 21. 

Ali Ilahls, 52. 

Allah a vital reality to 
Moslems, 17-8, 49-51, 
128-9, 163-4, 196-7 ; not 
the Christian God, but 
an honest attempt to re- 
present Him, 32-4 ; no 
dissatisfaction felt with 
Moslem conception of, 
22-3 (but see also 200-1) ; 
demoralizing influence of 
belief in His easy-going 
mercifulness, 50. See also 

Approach to Moslems, 
methods of, 25-7, 38-40, 
65-7, 94-6, 140-2, 143-6, 
176-80, 203-4, 206. See 
also Points of Contact, 
Christ, presentation of, to 

Ascension, 36, 181, 183, 

Atonement, 38, 40, 58-9, 72, 
183-5, 233. 

Bahaism, 51-2, 57, 62, 63, 


Bible. See Scriptures. 
Brotherhood, sense of, a vital 

element in Islam, 20, 133- 

5, 165-6, 197. 

Ceremonial, 28, 86-7, 90-2, 
93, II3-4, 169-70. 

Character, emphasis on, in 
appeal to Moslems, 141-2. 

Christ, necessity of empha- 
sizing elements of strength 
in character of, 34-5, 40-1 ; 
attractive power of His 
character, 34-5, 66-7, 95, 
204, 235-6 ; attitude of 
Moslems towards, 26, 32-7, 
72, 109-10, 182-3, 207-8, 
226-9, 230-2 ; divine Son- 
ship of, 26, 32, 60, 70, 96, 
7, 235 ; death of, 26, 41, 
6 1-3, 95, 103, 105-6, 114, 
207, 211, 227 ; presentation 
of, to Moslems, 9-10, 68-9, 
94-6, 152-3, 226 ff., 235. 
See also Approach to Mos- 
lems, Points of Contact. 

Christianity, defects of west- 
ern, 27, 60, 107, 148 ; in- 
stinctive antipathy to, 
among Moslems, 25-6, 59, 
96, 143, 207-8, 224-5; 
ethical freedom of, an 
attraction to Moslems, 36, 
66, 179 ; light shed by 
Islam on, 38-43, 73-5, 113- 
22, 152-5, 187-91, 210-2. 

Controversy, use of, 147, 205- 
6, 238 ; impossibility of 
avoiding, 104, 109-13. 


General Index 

Co-operation between Chris- 
tians and Moslems, call 
to, 153-5- 

Cross, the. See Christ, death 

Dhikr^ religious significance 
of, for Moslems, 21, 36, 53, 
132-3, 216-20. 

Eschatology. See Future Life. 

Family, attractiveness of 

Christian, 37, 41-3, 64, 98- 

9, 1 88, 200, 205. 
Fasting, 51, 56, 57, 87, 90, 

105, 131-2, 169, 198. 
Fatalism, 7, 50, 72, 87-8, 201, 

Force, emphasis on, in Islam, 

34, 40-1. 
Freedom of Christianity, 19, 

36-7, 66, 74-5, 114, 117, 

Future Life, 84-5, 89-90, 

1 10-3, 118-9. 

God, unity of, 29-30, 38-9, 71, 
82-3, 119-21, 163-4, 1 8 1, 
207, 237-8 ; necessity of 
emphasizing holiness and 
love, 22-3, 40, 140-2 ; re- 
lation between Christian 
and Moslem conception of, 
32-3, 70-2, 106-7, 1 1 6-7, 
140-2, 221-2, 224-6 ; great- 
ness of, 128 ; as Judge, 93, 
128, 1 8 1-6, 233. See also 

Hostility of Christendom to 
Moslem interests, 148-50. 

Imamat, influence of, among 
Shi'ite Moslems, 51-3, 58- 


Immortality. See Future Life. 

Inspiration, 33, 61-3, 202. 
See also Revelation. 

Islam, dissatisfaction with, 
among Moslems, 7-8, 22-5, 
55-9, 88-9, 169-76, 199- 
203 ; is evangelization of 
Islam worth while, 13- 
14 ; real vitality of, 8- 
9, 126-7, 162-3 ; all ele- 
ments not equally vital, 
16-17 ; legalism of (see 
Legalism) ; Semitic ele- 
ments in, 161-5 ; intoler- 
ance of, effect on Persian 
character, 63-4 ; its pro- 
paganda among pagan 
peoples, 80 ff. ; eternal 
paradox of, 222-4. 

Kerbala, 51, 54, 57, 58. 

Koran, effect of criticism 
upon, 24, 136, 202 ; pre- 
existence of, 30-1, 41, 228- 
30 ; reciting of, 21-2, 135- 
6, 164-5, 219-20; attract- 
iveness to pagan of its 
claim to be the revelation 
of God, 83-4 ; use of, in 
controversy, 106-9. 

Legalism of Islam, a cause 
of dissatisfaction, 24-5, 36, 
56-7, 73-5, 170-2 J a domi- 
nant force in Islam, 51. 

Logos, doctrine of, in Islam, 
30-1,41, 186,227-30,236-8. 

Love, 26, 37, 64-5, 96-9, 140- 
i, 177-8. 

Magic, 54-5, 83, 92, 94-5, 
99-100, 103, 114, 115-7, 


Marriage, 98, 101, 172-5. 

See also Family. 
Maulid services, 136-9. 
Mecca, pilgrimage to, 83, 88, 

91,97, 114, 134. 

General Index 


Merit, conception of, a uni- 
versal force in Islam, 51, 
105, 164, 234. 

Miracle, 62, 181, 227 ; 94-5, 
116-7, 178-9, 206. 

Missions, Moslem estimate 
of, 26, 37, 64, 96-7, 139-40, 

Mohammed, personal devo- 
tion of Moslems to, 18-19, 
129, 136-9, 146-8, 167-9, 
2 3 j growing dissatisfac- 
tion with character of, 23 ; 
contrast between Christ 
and, 35, 66-7, 72, 106, 170. 

Mullas, dissatisfaction with, 
56. See also Priesthood. 

Mysticism, 18, 22, 25, 39-40, 
57-9,73,85-6, 1 10, 115-6, 
167-9, 170, I79i 185, 236. 

Names of Allah, 219-21. 

Pan-Islamism, 134-5. 

Paradise. See Future Life. 

Perfect Man, doctrine of, in 
Islam, 185-7, 189-91. 

Personal authority, influence 
of, in Islam, 53-4, 73-5. 

Pilgrimage. See Mecca. 

Points of contact between 
Christianity and Islam, 
29-32,36,70-2,73-4, 150- 
2, 153-5, 181-7, 206. 

Polygamy, 24, 64, 98, 172-6, 

Prayer, place of, in Moslem 
life, 129-33, 1 8 8, 216-9 ; 
formal prayers (salaf) less 
significant than the dhikr, 
20-1 ; attractiveness of 
Christian prayer to Mos- 
lems, 36-7, 178. 

Priesthood, power of, 87, 88- 
9, 93. See also Mullas. 

Rationalism of Islam, 164. 
Revelation, 29, 72-3, 84, 175- 
6. See also Inspiration. 

Scriptures, attractive power 

of Christian, 94, 176-7, 206, 

Sin, the sense of, 22, 63, 96, 

105, 107, 167, 168, 181-5. 
Social aspiration and reform 

among Moslems, 24, 56-7, 

151, 171-6. 
Spirit of Jesus, 43. 
Sufiism, 25, 39-40, 57, 167-8, 

170, 185-6, 234-5. 

Traditions, source of idealiza- 
tion of Mohammed, 18-19 ; 
effect of European criti- 
cism upon, 23. 

Trinity, doctrine of, 61, 69- 
70, 102-3, 143-4, 189-91, 
207. See also 30, 38-9, 121. 

Wahhabis, 167. 

Wine, use of, 28-9, 208. 

Women, dissatisfaction with 
position of, 24-5 ; attrac- 
tiveness of Christian atti- 
tude to, 37, 179-80 ; funda- 
mental difference between 
Moslem and Christian 
attitude to, 42-3. 

Word. See Logos. 

Writers of these studies, 
notes on, 4-6 ; outlook 
conditioned by their per- 
sonal experience, 16, 47-8, 
79-80, 125-6, 159-61, 195- 
6, 209, 215-16. 

Zikr. See Dhikr. 


(See pp. 3 and 4) 

INTRODUCTORY How to study Islam, 8-9; system not 
all of equal religious significance, 16-17 ; danger of 
universal statements, tendencies more significant than 
expressed opinions, 49, 230 ; religious forces not ex- 
clusively Islamic part animistic, part Christian, 54-5, 
138, 226 ; indebted also to Judaism, 161. 


DEVOTIONAL Spiritual life 
in Islam, sources of, 20-1 ; 
religious nature called into 
activity, 127, 129-30; the 
dhikr as channel for re- 
ligious energy, 21, 132 ; 
effect on religious con- 
sciousness, 217-8 ; psycho- 
logical impression pro- 
duced by acted and spoken 
prayer, 130-1 ; religious 
practices connect this life 
with the next, 198-9 ; 
mysticism or Sufiism, 21, 
167-9 5 relation to murid 
and mujtahidy 53-4 ; con- 
stant opposition between 
experience of religious life 
and systems derived from 
dogmas, 223-4. 

DOCTRINAL The existence 
and unity of God, a real 
sense of, 163, 196 ; who is 

a personal force, in relation 
to the world and to man, 
17-18, 222-3 5 God present 
in some person (Imamat), 
51-2; His transcendence 
and sovereignty, 199 ; reci- 
tation of the Most Beauti- 
ful Names of Allah, 219 ; 
Islam vital because it is a 
religion, 126 ; main re- 
ligious ideas simple, 128 ; 
brevity and simplicity of 
creed, 57. 

KORAN Importance of, as 
supplying a Logos doctrine, 
228 ; aesthetic value of 
chanting of Koran, 21 ; 
effect of, irrespective of its 
meaning, 1 64-5; associated 
with all Moslem education, 
197 ; its effect on con- 
science, 135-6 ; new ethical 
significance in its study, 

Index to Six Main Topics 


136 ; importance of a 
* Book ' from propagandist 
point of view, 84. 

MOHAMMED Personal atti- 
tude to, 1 8 ; fostered by 
Traditions, 19 ; his in- 
fluence and personality, 
147 ; progressive idealiza- 
tion of Prophet expressed in 
maulid, 136-8 ; practically 
deified, 230 ; vital con- 
ception of divinely revealed 
bond between God, the 
Prophet, and his followers, 
129 ; Mohammed as inter- 
cessor, 233 ; practically 
equivalent to Logos, 228-9. 

pagans reveals vital forces, 
80 ; social and political 
factors advance Islam, 80- 
i ; but religious content 
is main attraction, 81-2; 
unity of Allah attracts 
pagans, as contrasted with 
polydaemonism, 82-3, 89 ; 
power of Allah, as demon- 
strated by economic, social, 
and intellectual superiority 
of Moslems, attractive to 

pagans, 83 ; superiority of 
Moslem to pagan magic, 
83,192 ; possession of divine 
revelation in writing as 
compared with pagan oral 
tradition, 84 ; a promised 
Paradise contrasted with 
uncertainties of pagan 
beliefs, 84-5, 89-90; in- 
fluence of wandering 
teachers, 85. 

Brotherhood and equality, 
idea of, 20, 133, 165 ; pan- 
Islamic movements not 
source or product of re- 
ligious class consciousness, 
134-5 ; corporate sense 
among Moslems, religious 
and political, 197 ; pride in 
history and universality of 
Islam, 20 ; legalistic merit 
resulting from religious 
acts, 5 1 ; fast month main- 
tains control of religion 
over nature, 132 ; but un- 
satisfactory motives under- 
lie religious observances, 



GENERAL Evidences of 
decay in Islam, 7-8 ; dis- 
satisfaction 'the rare ex- 
ception,' 203 ; traceable in 
(a) express statements of 
individuals, (ti) attempts 
made to supply deficiencies 
in Islam, 55-6 ; sects and 
cults an expression of dis- 
satisfaction, 57-9 ; dissatis- 

faction created by contact 
with Christianity, 88 ; yet 
seldom drives to accept- 
ance of Gospel, 94 (but see 

DOCTRINAL Doctrine of 
Allah, or relation of soul 
to Him, not touched with 
dissatisfaction, 22 ; but 
doubt felt as to reality of a 


Index to Six Main Topics 

divine forgiveness divorced 
from moral considerations, 
200-1 ; fatalism, 201. 

KORAN A faint note of 
dissatisfaction with, 24 ; 
touched by criticism in 
India, 24 ; its scientific 
statements indefensible, in 
view of theory of inspira- 
tion, 202. 

LEGALISTIC Requirements 
of Moslem law, minute 
and vexatious, 56; Baha- 
ism expression of this 
dissatisfaction, 57 ; cer- 
tain school of educated 
Moslems dissatisfied with 
compulsory fasting, stated 
prayers, ablutions, 169 ; 
Arabic prayer in non- 
Arabic speaking countries, 
169-70 ; Sufi or mystic 
movement is a protest 
against enslavement by 
Moslem ordinances, 25, 

MOHAMMED His acts, all 
lawful, but condemned if 

dissociated from him, 

POLITICAL Retrogressive 
political tendencies, 170- 
2 ; in Persia, Islam some- 
times regarded as religion 
imposed by conquerors, 

SOCIAL Social system fixed 
by revelation, 24-5 ; mod- 
ern educated Moslem dis- 
satisfied, 150, 172-6; edu- 
cation of woman and girls, 
151 ; position of woman, 
veil, concubinage, divorce, 
whole relation of the sexes, 
24-5, 172-6, 200; poly- 
gamy a burning question 
in India, 173 ; slavery, 199 ; 
impositions practised at 
Mecca, 89 ; harshness and 
covetousness of Moslem 
teachers, 88-9 (but see 92- 
3) ; the use of compulsion 
to gain converts, 201 ; 
dissatisfaction with social 
system cause of conversion 
to Christianity, 176. 


THE Christ Himself 
appeals, 9, 67 ; until His 
claim to supersede Moham- 
med is realized, 96; His 
character, 34-5 ; the Ful- 
filler, 180; His life and 
teaching, 66, 95, 96, 204 ; 
the miracles, 94, 178 ; 
story of crucifixion, 95 

(but see 61) ; moral ideals 
in teaching of Jesus, 65- 
6, 177 ; His presentation 
as the apostle of divine 
saving energy, 140-1; 
Christ in the Johannine 
writings, 235 (but see 

ANITY Theological as- 

Index to Six Main Topics 


pect does not attract, 
26-7, 37 ; except elements 
incorporated in Koran, 
203 ; such as Ascension 
and Intercession, 36; new 
thought of God, as a God 
of character, 141-2 ; who 
desires to draw near to 
men, 140-1 ; erroneous 
ideas of Christian doctrine 
lessened by contact with 
Christians, 60. 

ANITY Ethical freedom 
of Christianity, 36, 66, 179 ; 
Christian worship, 98-9, 
178 ; Christian prayer, 
public and private, 36, 178 ; 
Christian marriage, 98 ; 
the marriage rite, 98 ; the 
spiritual heaven, 66 ; ex- 
ercise of discipline by 
native church, 101 ; ab- 
sence of controversy in 
teaching, 65 (but see 

Christian character, pro- 
duct of divine activity, 
141-2; influence of, feared 
by Moslems, 204 ; Chris- 
tian love, 37, 64 ; truthful- 

ness and unselfish service, 
59; forbearance, 177 ; life 
of Christian family, 37 ; 
Christian womanhood, 37, 
64, 179; bearing of Chris- 
tian teachers contrasted 
with that of Islamic priest- 
hood, 97-8 ; bearing of 
Christians in face of death, 
99 ; hearing for Gospel 
won by conduct of Chris- 
tians, 96 ; Christian govern- 
ment, contrast with old 
regime, 205-6. 

Enterprise of Christian 
missions attracts, 26, 37, 
64, 177 ; medical missions, 
96-7 ; Moslem belief in 
influence of educational 
missions upon character, 
99-100 ; Protestant mis- 
sions have won respect 
lost by oriental churches, 
26, 139-40. 

ITY, THE Value of, for 
Moslems, 67, 206, 235-6 ; 
they also are ' people of a 
book,' 176 ; power of argu- 
ment from prophecy, 176, 
94 ; biblical stories in ver- 
nacular, 94. 


GENERAL All that is dis- 
tinctive in Christianity 
repudiated, 25-6 ; some 
stumbling - blocks inevi- 
table, others removable, 
27 ; Moslems regard 

Christianity as religion 
whose day is past, 59. 
DOCTRINAL Doctrinal 
difficulties, increased by 
method of presentation, 
34-5, 38, 61, 152-3, 


Index to Six Main Topics 

225-6 ; certain doctrines 
regarded as dishonouring 
to God, 143 ; doctrines 
of the Trinity, Deity of 
Christ, Incarnation, 61, 
102-3, 203, 207 ; recoil 
from idea of generation, 
225-6 ; * error of Christian- 
ity does not lie in making 
Christ God, but in making 
God Christ,' 190, 208 ; 
Cross dishonouring to 
Jesus, unnecessary for for- 
giveness, 62, 103, 145 ; 
conception of Fatherhood 
and sonship between God 
and man repellent, 221-2, 
224-5 ; different con- 
ceptions of what a sacred 
book should be, 61-2 ; 
objections to Christian 
doctrines stand or fall 
with infallibility of Koran, 
208 ; question of reserva- 
tion of Christian doctrines 
which cause offence, 104 ; 
differences necessarily 
called out in discussion, 
105-6 ; doctrinal interpre- 
tation should be sub- 
ordinated to living experi- 
ence, 144-5- 

of Church to orientalize 
and arabize its forms of 
expression, 218, 229-30; 
divided state of Church in 
eastern lands, 27, 60 ; 
denial, by Protestant 
Christendom, of present 
operation of miracles in 
physical world, 178 ; lack 
of devotional life in Pro- 
testant Christianity, 164; 

certain Roman Catholi 
practices, 163 ; ritualistic 
services, 178; slovenliness 
and irreverence in worship, 
28 ; failure of Christendom 
in the East as regards 
ablution, 28 ; contradictory 
teaching as to teetotalism 
and sacramental use of 
wine, 28-9 ; use of wine 
and swine's flesh, 208 ; 
absorption of a Christian 
worker in his profession 
as an end in itself, 178 ; 
inconsistency bet ween pub- 
lic and private life of a 
preacher, 177. 

ITY (SOCIAL) Failure of 
Christianity to leaven 
western life, 27 ; demoral- 
izing tendencies in avow- 
edly Christian society, 
148 ; undue stress on 
materialism, 187 ; lack of 
religion among Europeans, 
27, 60 ; contact with 
nominal Christians in 
trade and in politics, 60 ; 
hostility of Christendom 
to Moslem interests, 148-9 ; 
denial of Moslem claims 
and experiences by Chris- 
tians, 146-7. 

RELIGIOUS Different con- 
ceptions of religion, 61-2 ; 
loss involved by prohibi- 
tion of all magical imple- 
ments and powers, 103 ; 
fear of impact of Christian 
teaching on conscience, 
102 ; Christian sincerity a 
difficulty where the in- 
tolerance of Islam has 
bred insincerity, 63-4 ; fear 

Index to Six Main Topics 


of consequences of con- 
version, 6 1 ; elements 

which attract may also 
repel, 101-2. 


GENERAL Inter-relation of 
two religions deeply im- 
portant, 29 ; Islam con- 
tains some mental prae- 
paratio for Christian mono- 
theism, 32 ; mainly outside 
Koran and in semi- Moham- 
medan sects, 73 ; Moslem 
mental content and envir- 
onment change gradually, 
67-8,70-1 ; missionary aim 
not substitution of one set 
of beliefs for another, but 
presentation of Christ, 70 ; 
points of resemblance are 
not real identities, but 
relationships, 32-3 ; con- 
gruity of Christianity and 
Islam more apparent than 
real, 108-12 ; as to divine 
mercy, 109 ; as to Jesus and 
'Isa, 109 ; as to second 
advent and return of 
Mahdi, no; as to mysti- 
cism, no; as to escha- 
tology, in ; unbiblical 
syncretism results from 
lax use of Christian terms 
for Moslem thought, 112. 

Fundamental beliefs in 
common, 107, 181 ; agree- 
ment in praise of divine 
goodness, 107 ; supreme 
value set on faith in God, 
150; belief in the Unity, 
71 ; hints of 'real pres- 
ence' of God in Koran 


and Traditions, 31 ; faith 
in divine immanence, 
though degenerated into 
pantheism, 71 ; use of 
Names of God, 219-21 ; 
common antagonism to 
scepticism and material- 
ism, 150. 

for a mediator, 181-3; 
salvation through His 
sufferings, 183-5 J search 
after 'the Perfect Man,' 
185-6 ; belief in revelation 
through human mediums, 
72 ; but claims of Mo- 
hammed conflict with 
claims of Christ, 72 ; 
yearning for an incarna- 
tion, 71-2; Logos doctrine, 
strangely incomplete, 30, 
227-8 ; to be amplified 
by Christian teaching, 31, 
236-8 ; Johannine doctrine 
of Christ, 235-6 ; Moslem 
principle of complete sur- 
render aids in moral in- 
terpretation of death of 
Christ, 145-6 ; power of 
appeal to personal authority 
Mohammed or Christ, 
73-4 ; approximation of 
Moslem 'add to Christian 
SovXoy, 225, 236. 

tion through sacred books, 


Index to Six Main Topics 

72 ; but Christian revela- 
tion richer and higher, 73 ; 
common ground in lives 
of prophets and personal 
religion of Psalms, 206 ; 
life of our Lord, 206 (but 
see 1 08). 

MYSTICISM Moslem and 
Christian, 22; 'EN 
CHRISTO,' 39, 40 ; possible 
naturalizing of dhikr for 
Christian purposes, 218-9 \ 
common ground of deep 
religious experience, 181. 



GENERAL Vital forces of 
Gospel manifest at points 
where Islam is living, 119- 
21 ; contact with Islam 
deepens conception of 
Christianity, 121 ; alters 
emphasis on its elements, 
1 2 1-2 ; brings out elements 
forgotten or underestim- 
ated, 2 10- 1 ; reveals con- 
fusion in Christian termin- 
ology, 152; Christianity 
meets needs untouched 
by Islam, 210 ; moral co- 
operation between Chris- 
tian leaders and earnest 
Moslems needed, 154-5 ; 
contemplative life in Islam 
calls for devotional prayer 
life in church, 187 ; Chris- 
tian beliefs defined by con- 

tact with Islam, 211-2; 
light on New Testament, 
32,75, 113-9. 

ment, 38 ; character of 
Christ, 34-5, 41 ; eschat- 
ology, 118-9 5 freedom, 
religious, 117; God His 
unity, 30, 39 ; His holi- 
ness, 40 ; His love, 40 ; 
His ethical omnipotence, 
40-1 ; faith in His living 
rule, 73 ; incarnation, the, 
38, 41 ; miracle, conception 
of, 1 1 6-7; 'Perfect Man,' 
the, 188-91 ; personality 
as a force in religious life, 
73-4 ; sex relationship, 
42-3 ; ' spirit of Jesus,' 43. 

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